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The Talon House

Bodega Bay


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Bodega Bay

Chapter Eight

by Nick

"Don't eat too fast, boys," was the last thing Justin's mom said to us before he and I tore up the sidewalk to the snack bar at the water park. We had been there roughly an hour when our stomachs started to rumble, and the smell of deep fried food was calling out to us.

"Dude, let's get french fries," Justin said as we stood in line and watched as the people walking away from the counter carried large baskets of cheese fries, burgers, corn dogs and other assorted deep fried treats. Personally, I wanted a corn dog. I'd always been partial to them, especially when they were dropped in three hundred and fifty degree oil first. In fact, if it would have been up to me, the only food I would have ever been served from the time I could chew would have been corn dogs. There's something about the way the outside is nice and crunchy while the inside is still soft and gooey. I didn't even need mustard with it.

As we stood in line waiting, I watched as Justin dripped in front of me and shivered a little when a small breeze blew through. I thought it felt good to have the air blow across my back, but Justin was obviously uncomfortable. The way he clasped his fists together and brought them under his chin while he held his forearms to his chest and let his teeth chatter was so cute. His curly dark hair was matted against his head in some spots but it still glistened in the sunlight.

When we got to the blanket that Justin's mom had laid out for us, we both attacked our food, and that's when I realized that I was a little chilly myself. The feeling of the warm food in my tummy was sheer bliss, and I couldn't help but smile as Justin chewed his food while he snuggled up to his mom, who had wrapped a large towel around him to warm him up.

"I wish you could have come with us yesterday," he said with a mouthful of food. "We had so much fun."

"I wish I could have too," I answered right before I took a sip of my Sprite and set it down so I could pick my corn dog back up and take another bite.

To tell the truth, the day before wasn't the disaster I thought it was going to be. In spite of the fact that my stepmom and little stepbrother were there, I still got to enjoy visiting with my dad. My stepmom was actually acting civil to me, and so was my stepbrother. Of course I never had any kind of conflict with him. It was only her. If anything, every time I went to my dads for a weekend or summer visit, my little stepbrother acted like I was the best thing since sliced bread. He wanted to follow me everywhere and do whatever I was doing, but she wouldn't allow it.

I was pretty disappointed when I had to call Justin and tell him that I couldn't go on Saturday. I was looking forward to spending the day with him, and when we talked on the phone, I could tell that he was pretty bummed out about it too. But in the background, I could hear his dad talking to him.

"Ask him if he can go tomorrow," he said, and I smiled to myself when I heard that. Justin's parents were unbelievably cool. As soon as I got the okay from my grandpa, I told him yes, and I could hear the excitement in his voice when he got his answer. When I got off the phone I, was beaming too, and when I made my way to the living room, where everyone was sitting, my grandma was going on about how I had spent more time with Justin than I had at home and how wonderful his family was.

My stepmom had an indifferent look on her face when my dad moved over so I could sit by him. I hadn't seen him in almost a month and I had really started to miss him. But meeting Justin had occupied so much of my time that I hadn't given much thought to the fact that I hadn't seen my dad in so long. I told everyone the cake story and my stepbrother got a kick out of it. He asked me to tell him the story again and again, but luckily, my stepmom finally told him that I was probably tired of telling it.

My dad and I had a pretty good visit, too. We talked about going fishing by ourselves soon, and I could see my stepmom biting her tongue. My dad said he felt like eating pizza, so we went to Round Table for lunch. It was my second day in a row eating there, but since it was my favorite place for pizza, I didn't mind at all.

We took a large table in the middle of the restaurant, and we all got our drinks. Everyone but my dad and my grandpa got sodas. They got a pitcher of beer and killed it off right away, then they got another one. When the second one was gone, our pizza came and we all dug in. I kept thinking about the night before when Justin and I were running back and forth between the table and the video games, keeping ourselves busy all evening while his mom and dad sat at the table and dished out quarters.

As I was biting into my first piece, my dad brought up the court hearing and I suddenly didn't feel so good. I knew he was a little drunk, and he started a tirade about my mom that I didn't think he had any business starting, considering that he wasn't even at my hearing. My stepmom looked a little uncomfortable as my grandma admonished him for bad mouthing my mom in front of me, but my dad persisted.

Finally, my stepmom hooked her arm with my dads and gave him a tug, telling him that no one wanted to talk about it. Instead of shutting up, though, he moved on to the time he was married to her and talked about what a horrible wife she was. My stepmom again tried to get him to stop by reminding him that it was the past, and he needed to forget about it. Finally, my grandpa stepped in by taking a pair of five dollar bills out of his pocket and handing them to me.

"Split this with your brother," he said, motioning to the change machine where the games were. I knew better than to go back to the table, too. Most likely, my dad and my grandpa were arguing, and I was sure it was over more than what my dad was saying about my mom. My stepmom looked really uncomfortable as she sat at the table and looked between my dad and my grandparents, and for a moment, it looked as if my grandpa were giving her a lecture.

Of course I was curious about what they were going on about, but I knew not to intrude. My dad was drunk, and he had been saying a lot of things he normally wouldn't. I had never heard him bad mouth my mom before, and I was really uncomfortable with it. I felt oddly defensive when he did, as if I had a responsibility to stand up for her, but I knew better than that, too. Even if things were strained between my dad and I, and I wasn't staying with him, he was still my dad. I knew him well enough to know that he'd spank me without thinking twice if I incited him.

It seemed like perfect timing. Just as our money had run out, the adults got up and we left. The car was uncomfortably silent as we made the short drive back to my grandparent's house, and I was relieved to get back. I hopped out as soon as we pulled up and headed straight for the front door. While I waited for my grandma to unlock the door, I noticed that my dad and my grandpa were talking on the lawn, and my grandpa had his arm around my dad's shoulder. My dad nodded a few times and then they hugged. My grandpa gave my stepmom a hug too, but my grandma seemed like she was acting coolly to them both, which was way out of the ordinary for her. She was the most loving, caring person I knew. I knew something was still wrong.

As the afternoon progressed things seemed to lighten up though. My grandma asked my stepmom if she wanted to help her in the kitchen while my dad and my grandpa went to the back yard. My stepbrother and I followed them out the back door, too. I wanted to stay as close to anyone as I could because I had a creepy feeling about being alone with him. It wasn't him, though. It was my dad and my stepmom. I didn't want them to have any reason to think that I had done anything to him.

I hated feeling that way. It was as if I had to walk on eggshells while he was there, and he was doing everything in his power to get my attention, just like he always had before. There was a part of me that wanted to give him that attention, too. When I was six years old, I wanted to have as much positive male influence in my life as I could get, too. I didn't get to see my dad everyday, but I wanted to. I wanted to copy him, just like my stepbrother wanted to copy me.

But I didn't want to risk it. I wanted to be back on my dad's good side, so I made sure that I was as visible as possible. When my dad and my grandpa moved through the side gate to the front yard, I was right behind them. In fact, I didn't let them out of my site.

There was a little bit of an awkward moment when my dad asked me to take my stepbrother back through the side gate and into the house, and I acted like I didn't hear him. But I think he got the picture, because he did it himself without asking a second time. When he came back out by himself, he knelt down and put his arm around me, pulling me into a hug.

"I love you buddy," he said softly with his forehead pressed up to mine, then he planted a kiss right between my eyes.

"I love you too, dad," I answered him, returning his show of affection.

"I promise you that before school starts, we'll do something by ourselves, okay?" he said.

"Okay," I said as I nodded, feeling a little better about him leaving me in Pittsburg this time. We talked about the fact that I was going to go to the same middle school he went to when he was eleven. Of course I broke down a little and told him I was scared and that I missed him, and he soothed me by telling me that if I got lonely for him, to look around and think about the fact that I was sleeping in his old room in the house he grew up in. Then he told me that while I was in school that I should think about him walking the same halls I would walk, and sitting in the same classes that I was going to be in.

That made me smile a little, and I was able to stop crying. He hugged me again and when we broke our hug, I saw my stepmom standing on the front porch with a guilty look on her face. She smiled when she noticed that I was watching her, though, and my dad never saw it. When we walked up the steps to meet her on the porch, I was shocked when she leaned down and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

The rest of our visit went by quickly. We had dinner at about five, and then my dad said they had to go. Saying goodbye wasn't so hard this time because I knew he was coming back to take me fishing, and since school was right around the corner, I knew it wouldn't be long. I was a little sad as I watched them pull off in the Lincoln, but I looked up at my grandparents and smiled, and that seemed to brighten them up, because they beamed back down at me before we went back in.

"So where does your dad live, Kevin?" Justin's mom asked, as I chewed on my bite of corn dog.

"Modesto," I answered a little shyly, afraid of the questions I was sure would follow.

"How come you don't live with him?" Justin suddenly piped up.

"My stepmom doesn't want me," I said truthfully and sadly, and as soon as I did, I noticed a dismayed look on Justin's face.

"Well, she's stupid," he spat, making me smile.

"Justin," his mom said in a shocked tone, but her look was one of dismay as well, and it wasn't over what Justin had said.

"It's okay," I said with a small grin. "I kinda think so too"

"Well it wasn't a very polite thing for him to say," she said, looking sympathetically at me.

I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled, happy that someone finally told the truth about my stepmom.

Luckily, that was the end of the questions about my dad, and as soon as we were finished eating, Justin and I got up and ran to the slides, where we found ourselves racing each other to the bottom to see who had the most effective speed technique. When we were coming out of the water I found myself strangely fascinated with a certain part of his anatomy that I had noticed before, but not in the way I was seeing it at the moment.

Justin had one of the cushioniest butts I had ever seen. It was round and it stuck out. I had heard people refer to butts like that as bubble butts, and maybe that's what he had. I hadn't given it a name yet. But I had noticed it before, and I always thought it was nice. But as he emerged from the water in front of me, the water that ran down his back and over his butt had caused his shorts to stay inside his crack, giving it definition I had never witnessed.

For the rest of the time we were there, I made sure that I let him come out of the water in front of me when we took the slides. When we moved to the swimming pool, we took turns going under and lifting each other on our shoulders, then propelling each other across the deep end. Which ever one of us that was thrown would try to swim back unnoticed and without warning, come up from behind and lift each other up onto our shoulders.

When the park was ready to close we went back to Justin's house, and as I hoped, he asked his mom if I could spend the night. When we got back to his house I called and got permission. While we were at the water park, Justin's dad had dug out a volley ball net and put it up in the back yard. I had never played before, but the concept was simple enough and I caught on right away.

When it got dark, we came inside and had dinner, then we got ready for bed. I didn't have any clothes from home, so Justin let me wear one of his night shirts. We lay down next to each other and talked for about ten minutes, and that was all I could remember. I woke up at around two in the morning to go to the bathroom, but I suddenly realized that before I could get out of the bed, I was going to have to move Justin, who had me wrapped in a very tight embrace that I didn't feel very anxious about leaving.

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