“So, who was that guy? The one your mother hit with the frying pan.” Gene did this weird thing where he looked in the windows of his own house before he opened the door to go inside. Ben didn’t blame him.
“I told you.” Actually, he must have explained it all to Gene a dozen times since then, but Gene kept asking. “He’s the guy who tried to kidnap me.”
“I don’t get that. Why would anyone want to kidnap you? I mean, why you? It’s not like your parents are really rich or anything, even if your mother does own that house.”
Ben shrugged. He didn’t know why the guy wanted him. Thinking about it gave him the creeps, so he tried not to think about it.
“Think your mom will let me stay tomorrow night too?”
“I don’t know.” He didn’t want to admit to Gene how hard it was to get his mom to let them spend one school night together, let alone anything more. If his mom was more like Miranda, it would of been easier. But maybe Miranda was a little too much like Dad, so it was a good thing Suzie was his mom instead.
“No.” Gene, swatted at Ben but didn’t seem to care when he missed. “Your mom. I like your mom.”
“Yeah.” Ben couldn’t quite make himself agree. After all, his mother had betrayed him, hadn’t she? She’d sent him away. That was a kind of betrayal.
“She cooks good too! Those were the best pork chops I ever had.” Gene led the way to his room. He grabbed his backpack with is books, stuffed in some clothes to wear tomorrow, and talked about how good Ben had it living where he did.
Ben didn’t feel like he had it so good. He used to. He knew real well he was lucky. Now he kept waiting for his luck to run out again. If she kicked him out now it would kill him. He stood in the doorway of Gene’s messy room, feeling bad and not wanting anyone to notice.
That might be why he was aware of the sound from the front door before Gene was. The click of the lock came right before the voices – a man and a woman arguing.
Ben only caught words and phrases. “Your fault,” came up a couple of times in the woman’s voice. The man, Gene’s father, answered angrily with a fair number of swear words. “If something-something finds out,” made Ben’s ears sharpen. He moved down the hall closer to the living room where he could hear better. After a minute or two, Gene joined him. Neither said anything.
“Fix it or I’ll tell everyone,” the woman said. Her voice was familiar, but Ben couldn’t place it. “I’ll expect to see you at my place tonight.”
The front door squeaked open.
“You want proof? Here’s your proof,” Gene’s father growled. Then there was silence.
Ben and Gene both leaned around the corner to see what was going on without showing anything but the tops of their heads. What was going on was a kiss. A big, wet one. Ben couldn’t decide if he found it exciting or revolting, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
Then the grown ups broke apart and Ben just about had a heart attack.
The woman was his teacher, Mrs. D.
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