Misjudged – Part Eight
Scarlett decided to break the silence. “So wait, you two worked together?”
Jason laughed. “Yeah, I guess we did. I remember some techy dude named Arnold working for us that time the computers kept crashing. That was back when computers were kind of a new thing.”
“Yeah, that was me.”
“Wow, that’s so cool!” Arnold and Jason jumped a little when Tommy spoke. Tommy had been so quiet this whole time that they nearly forgot he was there. “Were you guys best friends?”
“Um…” Tommy’s dad and Jason looked at each other awkwardly. “We didn’t really have to speak to one another much.”
Tommy’s dad let out an anxious laugh and asked, “You weren’t the guy who yelled at me when I didn’t fix it right the first time, are you?”
“Nah, that wasn’t me,” laughed Jason. “That was Jeff. He had some anger problems. I hope he’s worked those out since then.”
“Well,” began Scarlett, “This has all been touching and all, but can we refocus on the problem at hand?”
“What’s the problem?” asked Jason.
Scarlett waved her arms around, pointing at everyone and then the gun that was on the ground. “I’m not even sure what exactly the problem is.” Scarlett dropped her posture. “There’s a lot going on over here.”
“Yeah,” agreed Cash. “This has all gotten kind of weird.”
Greyson stepped forward. “Hold on, I have an idea. Jason, you know all about addiction, right?”
Jason nodded. “Yeah, why?”
“Seeing as Jason overcame his drug addiction, why doesn’t he help me with my cigs and Tommy’s dad with drinking?”
Tommy got excited. “You guys can go camping!”
Greyson ruffled Tommy’s hair. “That sounds fun, little man. But you won’t be able to come with.”
“Aw, why?” Asked Tommy, disappointed.
“We’re going to be talking about some heavy stuff.” Greyson looked at Arnold. “So, what do you say? Wanna go camping?”
Arnold looked at his wife and Tommy. “I guess it couldn’t hurt.”
Tommy’s mother looked at her husband. “I’d rather you get professional help…”
“Yeah, I know,” agreed Tommy’s dad. “But it can’t hurt to try this, either.”
Scarlett cleared her throat. “And another thing. Will you please tell your nosy ass neighbors to quit talking about us behind our backs?”
Tommy’s mom glared at Scarlett. “Will you quit swearing in front of my son?”
Scarlett continued to glare at Tommy’s mom for a moment, and then broke away with a sigh. “I don’t usually swear around him, but yes, I’ll quit swearing in front of Tommy.”
Tommy tugged on his mother’s shirt and she leaned down to allow him to whisper something into her ear. “Even him?” she asked Tommy, looking at Jason. Tommy nodded.
“Seeing as it’s beginning to get dark out, Tommy wants to invite you all to dinner at our house.”
Everyone agreed to come, and the group began to walk back towards Tommy’s house. Jason and Arnold talked about memories from when they worked together. Tommy’s mom and Greyson talked about different colleges around the area. Tommy’s mother was a teacher, so she knew some things about the schools. Tommy held Scarlett’s hand and followed from the back.
Tommy was happy until he saw his neighbors talking to a police officer. Arnold swore under his breath.
Arnold went forward to talk to the police officer and the neighbors ran over to Tommy’s mother.
“Oh my goodness, I’m so glad he’s ok!” The woman glared at the three teens standing with Tommy. “Those three are going to get the punishment they deserve.”
Tommy’s mother put her hand on Tommy’s head. “He was never in any danger, it was all a big misunderstanding.”
“A misunderstanding? How could these, these…. heathens cause anything but trouble?! They probably brainwashed him! And maybe even you, too!”
Cash and Greyson pulled Scarlett away from Tommy’s mother and the neighbor before she could say anything. Tommy could hear a string of curse words under Scarlett’s breath and giggled.
“You know, Margret,” began Tommy’s mother. “Those kids aren’t as bad as we all thought. Tommy was lonely so they hung out with him, that’s it.”
“Are you sure they haven’t gotten him started on heroin?” asked Margret, suspiciously eyeing the thee teens across the street.
Tommy’s mom paused for a moment. “No, I’m sure. They’re all actually very sweet once you get to know them.” She leaned in closer to Margret. “The girl can be a little hotheaded at times, but Tommy likes her the best, I think.”
Tommy heard a car driving away and saw his dad walking back without the police officer. “We’re all clear.”
“Talk to you later, Margret.” Tommy’s mother took Tommy’s hand and led him away from Margret.
“C’mon!” yelled Tommy to the three teens and Jason across the street. “Dinner’s gonna be ready soon!”
previous: Misjudged – Part Seven
first chapter: Misjudged – Part One
more by CASSIE GAMMIE
photograph by Luis Llerena