I ran into the living room and paced as my heart continued to beat at a rapid pace. Scared couldn’t even remotely describe how I felt at this moment. My heart felt as if it wanted to leap out of my chest and get as far away from my body as possible.
I wanted to also get the hell out of the house I was currently standing in. I tried not to process what I had seen, I didn’t need to see that. My mind could only see so much at this young and vulnerable age. Okay, maybe I’m not that innocent, I have my own private computer with the internet – I’ve seen and watched plenty of videos on the web. But still, that was not what I ever intended on walking into. I thought that I was safe from ever seeing that!
I honestly can’t remember even arriving at the Moss household. The image that my mind still was processing took out all natural normal thoughts from my head. I couldn’t even remember how I even got to the house.
I was sure a dead man. One to be killed slowly by Mr. Moss.
MR. MOSS! That’s it! That’s why I came here! Damn Riddle and her secrets. If she hadn’t told me anything, I would still be at the library and my mind would be completely safe.
I heard a door close from the hall and went completely stiff.
Shit, shit shit!
Mr. Moss rounded the hallway and stood there, shirt still off. “Sit,” he grounded through his teeth. Yup, the man was clearly pissed off and he had every right to be. I can’t believe what I had done. I watched as Chance walked in, turned on his heals with one look at his father, and ran away.
I continued to stand, too scared to move. I wanted to run like Chance. I wanted to get the fuck out of dodge. I also stood there in awe, not because I just caught my girlfriend’s parents fucking, but because right before me was a very pissed off Cocaine Chimeree. That’s when it hit me, I was talking to Cocaine Chimeree!
“I said sit down!” He growled.
I turned and sat on the sofa. I was in deep shit.
Mr. Moss started to pace. “You have some nerves kid.” He muttered.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Chi-er-Moss.” I couldn’t take it. I was staring at Cocaine Chimeree, of course I was going to blurt it out. I couldn’t think of anything else. That and I didn’t want to think of anything else. It was all I could do to keep that image out of my head.
Mr. Moss’ head snapped at me with the slip, “What did you say?”
I held my breath. Fuck, I didn’t mean to blurt out Mr. Chimeree, I was hoping he didn’t hear me the first time. I was hoping he was so mad that he half ignored my apology.
“Speak Mr. Britt, now!” He growled.
“I said I was sorry, Mr. Moss.” There, he doesn’t need to know that I know his secret – not now at least. Right now he’s just too pissed off, and I don’t need him to go another shade of red right now. I also didn’t want to get Riddle into this and have her never see me because of his say so. Plus, now that I know, I could totally use this to my advantage on my paper. Why didn’t I think of that before I came storming in here?
“That’s not what you said, Isaac.” He was standing there now, more pissed than ever. “Now, tell me what you said.”
I sighed. It figures that Mr. Moss would have heard the slip up. He hears everything in class. Once, he caught two people whispering during a test. I didn’t hear them, but I saw him snatch the tests from them and sent them on their way. It turns out that they were sharing the answers back and forth for five minutes. The guy was like a bat, he could hear everything.
“I said I was sorry, Mr. . . .” I held my head down and mumbled, “Chimeree.”
Mr. Moss didn’t say anything for a long time. He just paced. I wasn’t sure what pissed him off more; the fact that he was just caught fucking his wife in his office or that his daughter just told his biggest secret.
I fidgeted in my chair, I was uncomfortable about this now. I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be in the same room as Mr. Moss. I just wanted to be home, on my computer, writing. That would be heaven compared to the hell I was in right now.
“Mr. Moss,” I whispered. He stopped pacing again and glared at me but didn’t say anything. “Mr. Moss, could I go now?”
“No,” he stated before continuing his pace. Evidently his heart was pounding as much as mine was.
I gulped audibly. I was so petrified at this point. I’d never seen Mr. Moss so upset and angry, and I was once blamed for him having blue hair for a week. I didn’t think it would ever get worse. Apparently I was wrong. This was way worse.
Finally he stopped and looked at me again. “Isaac,” he started and paused. I don’t even think he knew what he was going to say to me. “There are two things I want you to do. First, go find Mrs. Moss and apologize. Second I want you to go meet me in my office.”
“In your office?” I asked with confusion. I knew there was no way I could ever walk into that office again without that image permanently stained in my brain.
“Yes, my office. You’ve had the balls once to walk in without knocking, you can go in again, this time with invitation.”
I didn’t say anything else. I did as he said and went in search for Mrs. Moss. I found her in the kitchen. No doubt she went through the back yard, in embarrassment. I really felt guilty about that. I knocked on the wall and looked at her, “Mrs. Moss?” I asked.
Mrs. Moss turned and I could see her cheeks crimson, “Isaac.”
“I came to, uh, apologize for, uh, intruding on you and Mr. Moss.”
Her face flushed with more color. She nodded then turned back to her stove. “Thanks Isaac, you can leave now.”
I knew she felt embarrassed; I just wished she didn’t feel like this. I really loved Mrs. Moss. I turned and walked out of the kitchen and headed back to the office. God, I really didn’t want to walk back in there. I could still see them there. So. . . disgusting. I knocked on the door, and when Mr. Moss answered I walked in.
Inside I found Mr. Moss waiting at his desk. I stood, wishing Mr. Moss had more chairs in the office. This was his sanctuary though, so I doubt he didn’t need much but his desk chair on a normal day to day basis, and it didn’t look like Mrs. Moss did much sitting when she was in here. . . NO DON’T THINK LIKE THAT, KALIQ!
“Mr. Britt,” Mr. Moss started, “Would you please explain to me why you would come barging into my home, in my office, without invitation?”
I fumbled with my words. I had an explanation, but right now. . . I didn’t think I needed to get Riddle into trouble. “No sir.”
“You sure about that?”
I sighed, “It’s not important right now.”
“Oh, I beg to differ, Isaac. First you storm in here, and then. . . and then. . .” He was lost for words. I know he was trying to wrap the truth around his head. Yes, I knew who he was, and soon he’d figure out exactly who told him and it would be all over for Riddle. Sorry, Riddler.
“Mr. Moss, I am sorry. It won’t happen again. I’ll just, uh, leave.”
“No, you will not,” he warned. “You will explain, now.”
“I came to . . “ Oh man, this was going to be hard. How was I supposed to tell this man I learned something that he’s kept secret for centuries? I couldn’t even look him in the eye; I was so scared that he’d kill me if I said anything. He was staring down at me like a school teacher would do. Man, why is my life so fucked up? Why can’t I be brave like that Delta Nine guy?
“I came here ‘cause I learned something and I needed to talk to you about it.”
He didn’t say anything.
I stopped. I didn’t know if I should proceed. Of course I probably should, but it was so hard to say anything. I was so afraid of him.
“And?” he pushed.
“And I needed to know if it’s true.” I continued to gaze down to the floor, “Are you?”
“What a three hundred year old author?” He asked with a laugh, “You read too much fiction.”
“I didn’t read it, sir.” I hesitated, should I say? Should I really get Riddle in trouble? Probably not, but what choice did I have? “Someone told me.”
“Oh so now there’s rumors about me being older than my forty-plus years?” he laughed again.
“Riddle told me.” I mumbled.
Silence. The laugh faded through the room and the smile from Mr. Moss’ lips dwindled. I waited. “Get out of here.” He grunted.
I ran. I ran till my feet hurt and ran some more. I ran as hard as I could and when I couldn’t run any more I called the first person to leap to mind, “Joey?”
“Hey brat. What’s up?”
“I need a ride.”
“Sorry kid, but I’m on duty. Why don’t you call Scott?”
Even though he couldn’t see it, I scowled at the thought. I didn’t want to call that man. “No. I’ll just get a cab.”
“Just call Scott, man.” Joey sighed. “It’s not like he wouldn’t. He’s your mom’s boyfriend. He cares for you.”
I grunted inaudibly. He didn’t really care for me. He and ma both would rather I’d be gone so they could have the house to themselves. Just as I was debating who to call a car pulled over. “Need a ride young man?”
Crap. I didn’t really want to get in the car with Ms. Conner, but what choice did I have. I told Joey goodbye and that I had a ride before getting into the car.
“Thanks.” I mumbled to her while I put my seatbelt on.
She smiled, “No problem. I like picking up hitchhikers.” She laughed as if it was a joke. “Last time I picked up a wondering kid was when I stumbled upon my son. You look like him, you know.”
“Scott?” I asked.
She laughed, “No, my older boy. He’s gone now. Died from what I heard.” Her eyes watered up and I saw that part of her was missing. “Never did get to know the kid.”
“I’m sorry. I know how it feels though. I didn’t get to know my dad before he died.” I patted her on the back. “You wanna talk about it Ms, Conner?”
“Maybe some other time, and call me Rose.”
“What was your son’s name?”
I smiled. That was an interesting name.
“How bout your father?”
“I don’t know it. Ma doesn’t mention him. She doesn’t even have a picture of him.” This was true. Ma wouldn’t tell me a single thing about my ol’ man. I always was told he was killed, or dead, but I think he’s the reason we’re hiding – that he was going to kill ma. It was the only logical explanation.
Rose shook her head, “A boy should always know his father’s name.” She parked the car outside my house. “Well, this is you, Isaac.”
I nodded and looked back at Rose, “Call me if you want to talk more about your son. I’d like to hear more.”
She nodded and drove off.
Later that night as I worked on my report, my phone buzzed in my packet. I looked at the screen and smiled when I saw Riddle’s name on it. “Hey Riddler.”
“You asshole!” she screamed, “I told you not to tell anyone, and what do you do? You come running to my father!”
I sighed. I should have known this was not going to be good. “Look, I’m sorry babe. What else was I supposed to do? You landed a bombshell on me and I detonated. I was pissed. I hate being lied to Riddler, and that. . . That’s something that I couldn’t just handle. I’m sorry.”
“Well, I’m sorry too. Cause I trusted you, and now I can’t. Sorry Isaac, but I can’t see you anymore.”
“Just like that?” I asked, stunned that my girlfriend and only friend wanted to abandoned me.
She didn’t answer, instead she hung up.
I gawked at my phone. Did she just break up with me? No. Did she? She couldn’t . . . could she? I tried calling her. Nothing. I called again, still nothing. Each time I called it went straight to voice mail. I tossed my phone onto the desk and logged onto SimFace. I immediately went to Riddle’s page, “Add as Friend” was popped on there.
I stared at my computer, wondering what the hell was going on? We’ve been friends on SimFace since she and I were old enough to create an account. I clicked on “Add as Friend” and received a pop-up, “Access Denied.” Did she block me? Clearly she wouldn’t have blocked my page, could she? I tried it again, same message. After the fourth time trying, I gave up.
That’s when the flood works started.
For four days straight I called her, day and night. Nothing. Everything went to voice mail. I left plenty of messages. “Hey Riddle, it’s me. Again. Call me, I know we had some words, but I want to talk it out. Please, you’re my best and only friend. I love you. Call me . . . Please.” I even continued to try adding her on SimFace.
After the fourth day, I called my friend Casey and asked him over. He sat at my computer and logged onto his account. “Click on Riddle.”
“Chill, I know how to work the thing. I’m not stupid.” He scoffed. After clicking on Riddle and loading her page, my heart dropped. Riddle’s Relationship Status read, “In relationship with Ben Corrado.”
“WHAT!” I screamed and pointed to the screen. “THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL! We just broke up!”
“Sorry, man.” Casey said, looking over his shoulder. “The guy works fast.”
I glared at Casey and clenched both fists.
“Calm down, Isaac. Maybe she put that there just because.”
“Have you talked to her?” I asked.
“No, but Sam hangs out with Story. Maybe she’ll know what’s going on. Look, I gotta go home before my rents figure out I’m missing.”
“You still grounded for that cherry bomb in the teacher’s lounge?”
“Yeah.” he laughed, and I joined in. Casey was the biggest prankster I knew.
A week later my heart was killing me. Casey had called and told me that Riddle was in fact dating the Quarterback. She even told Sam that she couldn’t wait till summer so she didn’t have to see me in the hallways at school. That and I knew her annual trip to France was coming up. I wonder if Ben would be joining them? Ma never allowed me to go, saying it was too dangerous in France. As if!
I passed Riddle’s locker and looked at it, longing to see her. Our only class we had together she requested to be switched. English was the hardest class to attend. I had to listen to Mr. Moss lecture. He wouldn’t even look at me. I don’t know what crushed me more, the fact that my best friend didn’t want anything to do with me or that the guy I looked up ignored me in his own class.
As the bell rang I did what I did every day and slid out of my desk and walked out the door. As I entered the hall I saw Story and Riddle arm to arm with Ben. They passed me and Story shouted, “Hey Potter breath.” All three laughed. It killed me to watch Riddle laugh. She hated Story’s nicknames for me.
“Sup Drano cleaner.” I sneered. I laughed at remembering when I was unclogging the toilet and ma told me to use Drano, and it was an ugly green – reminded me of Story.
Ben steps faltered. He turned and glared at me, “What did you say, Nerd-Turd.”
“It doesn’t concern you, Benito. This beef is between me and reptile girl.”
Ben pushed me hard, right into someone, his face said it all. Riddle and Story both grabbed him and didn’t waste time as they took off in a run. I turned and faced Mr. Moss. I gulped audibly. How long had he been standing behind me, and did he hear what I had called Story?
“My classroom, now.” He pointed to the door.
I followed back in and wished I had never been born. I tossed my backpack at my desk and sat down. “You know she started it,” I blurted out.
“And aren’t you the quickest person to come up with racial slurs.” He mocked.
“At least I wasn’t gearing up for a fight like Benny was.”
“Ben was only doing something I would have done if the roles were reverse Mr. Britt, and you know it.”
I gulped. Yeah, he hated when I insulted Story because of what she was. It wasn’t because I didn’t know about Elinthas, hell there were plenty in Hidden Springs, it was because Story started the name calling first in the playground and we’ve been doing it ever since.
I sat in silence. I didn’t know what to say.
I watched him, and for a while he paced. Finally, he walked over to me. He knelt right down into my face, “Now, I don’t know what’s going between any of you, but if I hear you or find out you’re spewing that shit at my daughters again, I will hunt you down.”
I gulped. “Can I go now?” I asked with the driest mouth I have ever had. I felt a cold shiver down my back. I wanted to be as far away as Mr. Moss.
I ran out of the school and straight to the waiting bus. I leaned my head against the glass, waiting for my heart to slow. I just wanted this day to end. Before the bus pulled out I was greeted with another gut-wrenching sight; Riddle, Story, and Ben walked past me and straight to his car.
My hand wanted to reach out for Riddle, wanting to call out for her. I felt more people hopping in the bus. Everyone was heading home and I was alone. Normally I would just go to Riddle’s then home, but like the last two weeks I went straight home.
I walked in and headed straight for my room. Ma called after me, but I ignored her. I got on my computer and loaded up all the crap I had on Delta Nine. I knew I probably should be working on my English paper that was due the next day. As the computer turned on I glanced over at the picture ma took just prior to our breakup. I broke down in tears. Why am I in so much pain? Why can’t I just move on? She moved on so easily, it’s a wonder if she ever loved me. No, I can’t think like that. Riddle had loved me, hadn’t she? Did she?
Ma came in as I sat there crying. “Ma, just leave me alone.”
“Kal,” she whispered. It was just the two of us, and ma only spoke my real name when we were alone. “What’s going on with you? You’ve been coming home depressed the last week and I’m worried. Did you and Riddle get into a fight?”
I allowed a tear to drop as she spoke about Riddle.
She walked over and brushed off the tear and held my face up, “What’s wrong, baby?”
“She broke up with me and worse she doesn’t even want to be around me. She hates me. The only person I thought I could trust, thought I could love, and she hates me.”
“And you can’t love your own ma or trust her.”
I smiled, “Ma, you know what I mean. Of course I love you and trust you. I just don’t trust anyone besides you, Jenny, and Jonny.”
“What about Mr. Moss?”
That allowed another tear and I finally fell into my mother’s arms. Yeah, I had loved the man as a father. I wanted him as a father, and he hates me more than his daughters. Ma kissed me on the top of the head and held me as I cried into her shoulder. She knew it was hard for me to lose so much.
After a while, ma decided to change the subject. I knew she did it just to keep me from dwelling on Riddle and the Mosses. “What are you working on?” she asked and pointed to the computer screen.
“Yeah,” she smiled and held me closer. I could feel the pride in her. “What’s it about?”
“A spy.” She nodded and waited for more. “It’s about this guy who gets tangled up in this mess with Russia. He’s held captive and other stuff. All action pack, James Bond type, but of course way cooler.”
“Of course.” She smiled. “So what’s the character’s name?”
I grinned and looked at her, “Delta Nine.” And as if a bucket of ice water came crashing down on mom, her demeanor changed and she went pale. “Ma, you okay?”
She took a few steps back and faltered for the bed, shaking violently as she did. “Ma, what’s wrong, you okay?” I asked again. Fear ripped through my body. What was happening?
“I’m okay.” She lied, she wasn’t. “Just got light headed. Tell me, where’d you come up with the name?”
“In a Russian article I read about this guy who escaped a Russian prison like ten years ago. They didn’t give a name, just Delta Nine and I knew I had to use it. They said he was a spy.”
Ma ran out the room in an instant. I chased her to the bathroom where she emptied her stomach. “Ma are you sure you’re okay?” I asked as I handed her a glass of water from the sink.
She swished her mouth and spat into the toilet, “I’m fine. I’m just coming down with something.”
“You’re not. . . “ I hated to ask, but I needed to know, “You’re not pregnant, are you?”
She laughed, “Me? Kaliq, I may not be young, but I am smart enough to know to use protection with Scotty. No, I’m not pregnant. You’re my last baby dear, I don’t need another man’s baby.”
I tried to return her reassuring smile.
“Why don’t you go back to work on your novel. I’ll be fine.” She said with a smile wiped away more of my tears.
She nodded and I left the room still wondering what the hell was wrong with her.
I entered my room and wrote about five pages before I decided to give up for the day. I couldn’t write knowing ma was sick. I opened my report on Chimeree and just stared at it. I looked at the books Mr. Moss gave me that I thought was my most prized possession. Now, I just hated that the man on the screen was the reason I didn’t have Riddle or Mr. Moss, or anyone. . . but my ma. I highlighted the entire paper and hit the delete button. I sat there and stared at the blank screen before typing my name and printing out the page. That was my report. I didn’t care about school anymore, especially not that class.
The next day I went through school like a robot. Answered all the questions on auto-pilot and waited it for it to be over. At lunch I ate by myself. I watched as Ben, Story, and Riddle all laughed around the table across the room. Riddle didn’t even look at me. Was she even hurting like I was? She was my friend, my only friend. Did she even love me at all?
The bell rang and I headed straight to class. Mr. Moss waited till we were all seated and quieted. “Alright, papers. Hand them in. I asked you to write about one classic author, and I really can’t wait to read some of these.” He looked at me and smiled a really fake smile. Well the joke was on him. I handed my blank page. He looked at it and looked back at me, “What’s this?”
“My paper.” I said.
“It’s a blank piece of paper.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you telling me that in the last few weeks you’ve been busting your ass for this assignment and this is what you have to show for it?” He whispered.
“Maybe the guy wasn’t that talented to begin with and his whole life was boring as hell. I mean it had to be to have written as much as he did.” I said out loud, which got a few gasps in response. I had never talked to teacher with so much disrespect, but right now he didn’t deserve my respect. He walked past me and I was grateful that he didn’t come down on me. I knew who he was, and he could have easily tore me a new asshole right there. He had a very interesting life if my research was correct, but I didn’t care right then.
As class ended I started for the door before I heard him call out, “Mr. Britt, a word.”
I grounded my teeth and turned to face him, “Yeah?”
“You got some balls kiddo. First the house, then you break my daughter’s heart -”
“SHE BROKE MINE!” I screamed, cutting me off. “I loved her to death, and she broke up with me – no thanks to you and you’re fucking secret! Not only that, she’s gone so far as not even wanting to befriend me! How do I cope knowing that the only people in my life besides my ma, doesn’t even want anything to do with me. You tell me? Do I care about school, fuck no! Do I care that this will kill my GPA so much that I probably won’t have any shot next year getting valedictorian? Yes. But if I had to choose my heart over my education and my fucking brain, I choose my heart. So fuck you Mr. Moss.” I stormed out of the room and left him with his mouth wide open.
That night as I sat writing my novel, I heard the doorbell rang. Not two minutes, ma knocked on the door and peered in, “Mr. Moss is here to see you.”
“Tell him to go fuck off.” I said.
She closed the door, and in her most hushed voice she yelled, “Kaliq Isaac Rain!”
I turned to face her, “What?”
“Get your ass out there and talk to that man. You owe it to him. Riddle may have hurt you, but he still cares for you. Now go out there.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me up. “Now, or I will take the computer away.”
I walked out with hatred in my eyes. I found him waiting for me in the living room, standing there. “What now?” I asked.
“I came here to apologize, and offer some form of truce.” He started. “I didn’t realize that Riddle broke it off with you. I didn’t even know she was purposefully ignoring you. I talked to her this evening when she got home. I know you’re probably mad I kept this charade up, but to be honest I have to.” I nodded my understanding. “It took me for a loop when Riddle told me you were reading one of my books in the third grade. Then to learn Cocaine Chimeree was you’re favorite author warmed my heart. I haven’t had a fan since a hundred-two hundred years. I enjoyed someone looking up to me that way.”
I raised my hand up to stop Mr. Moss. “Didn’t ever occur to you, that I didn’t look up to the author, but to the man, himself.” I pointed to him. “Yeah I love to read and write. Yeah I love your books. So what? You, Mrs. Moss, Riddle, Chance . . . “ I hesitated and swallowed the bile that formed in my throat as I continued, “Story. You all are, well were, my only other family. I looked up to all of you.”
Mr. Moss smiled, “And despite Riddle’s protests, you are still family over there. Please, call me Coke and Anya, I’m sure wouldn’t mind her being called Anya. We love ya, kid.”
I nodded but didn’t return the sentiment out of self-reservation. I wasn’t about to open that heartache again.
“Call Riddle. If she doesn’t answer, call Chance. He’ll get her to talk to you.”
“Thanks, Mr -er- Coke. I will.”
“You’re a good kid, Isaac.” He tousled my hair before adding, “But you still owe me a paper.” He headed for the door but turned briefly to add, “By Monday.”