Ben followed Gene back to Gene’s place. If he’d been thinking, he’d have had Gene meet him at home – at Mom’s house. It was on account of Mrs. D. that he didn’t think about it.
She was all weird now. She smiled in that way that gave him the creeps all the time. She kept saying stuff that was supposed to be nice, but wasn’t, like today when she said he was a good boy because it was obvious he was trying his best. He WASN’T trying his best. He wasn’t trying to do anything in her class at all. With only a few days until the end of school, why bother? Besides, who went around saying, “good boy,” anymore? Like he was a dog or something.
So he shouldn’t have gone to Gene’s place at all, but it wasn’t the usual BS that got him. It was the shock of seeing Dad sitting there like it was something he did all the time.
“There you are,” Dad said with a smile that could rival Mrs. D’s.
“Why are you here?” Ben kept a good long distance from Dad’s side of the room.
“Something wrong with my visiting a friend?” Dad gestured toward Gene’s dad, who sat in another chair on that side of the room.
The thought of Dad and Gene’s dad getting along real well put a shiver up Ben’s spine. If friends started acting like each other, then this was going to be real bad for both him and Gene. Would Dad start beating him? Would Gene’s dad start fooling around with all kinds of women? Oh, wait. He was already doing that.
“Since when have you and Mr. Thomas been friends?” Ben took a careful step further into the room.
“I’ll get my stuff,” Gene said quietly before slipping out of the room. Ben barely acknowledged him with a nod. He totally understood his friend’s desire to get what they came for and get away.
Dad and Mr. Thomas weren’t saying much. They looked at each other like they had a problem with him and weren’t sure what to do about it.
“How come I’ve never seen the two of you together before? How long have you known each other? Why didn’t you say something?” Ben took another cautious step toward them.
“Enough with the twenty questions,” Dad bellowed.
Ben flinched. It was typical Dad, but that didn’t mean Ben felt safe.
“I’m sure he’ll find out anyway,” Mr. Thomas said. He was sober today. That was good. “Mrs. D introduced us last week. It seems we have something in common.”
“Something in common?” Ben couldn’t imagine what.
“We both have sons who are not doing well in her class.”
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