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Suzie’s House 496 : Shelter From the Thorn

Suzie's House

“Why? I’m not saying let’s go back to the park. I’m saying why did we have to leave when the sun is still up.” Lisa meant for the question to go to the entire band though she looked at Bruce as they hustled along to Ben’s house.

“Like I said already, we’ll talk about it when we get to the house.”

Lisa gnashed her teeth. “Do you all realize how little time we have left to get this done? Every minute…” But she stopped herself.

Of everyone in the band, the one least likely to abandon the music video was Bruce. Above and beyond his deep love of music – or at least of his own musical career – there was nothing immature about him. Cunning, yes. Babyish? Not in any way that Lisa could see. That meant he had to have a real good reason for calling a halt to the recording.

Considering the way Emma still wore her mask, stumbled along with her shoulder’s curled in, and held her hands over her mouth, it must have something to do with Emma. But what?

Curiosity as much as irritation drove Lisa to say what she’d managed to keep to herself right up until they all trouped up the stairs to the front porch at Ben’s place. Lisa thought they’d stop at the porch swing to talk, but Bruce guided Emma into the house with a protective arm wrapped around her and she actually let him. This must be serious.

Ben looked a little startled. Even though people walked in and out of his house like it was the public library, they generally held back long enough for one of the two guys who actually lived here to open the door. He glanced at Gene, who just shrugged and followed Bruce into the hallway that run from the front door to the back of the house. Lisa didn’t think anyone else even noticed, but maybe she was reading too much into it. She hurried inside and pushed past the ever-silent boys.

“We’re here now. Tell me what’s going on!”

“Emma’s brother was at the park just now.”

“What? No way? Isn’t he in Ohio or something?” Kate’s voice came from the back of the group and echoed funny in the hallway.

“He was in a van,” Bruce said.

“Are you sure it was him? I mean, I’ve never even seen his picture, and I’ve been over to Emma’s house more than once.” If they were just flinching from shadows, Lisa was going to be seriously mad.

“It was him,” Emma said. “He… he was looking right at me. Right at me.” She stopped right outside the door to the den.

“Wait. Are you talking about that guy in the van with the messed up paint job? That was your brother James?” Ben’s eyes widened in mild alarm. “The one who watched us like a serial killer looking for a lost kid?”

Emma shuddred.

“I didn’t see this,” Lisa blurted with some irritation. Imagine missing a chance to examine a character like that!

“Y-you had your back to him.”

“So you see why we had to go, right?” Bruce guided Emma into the den with gentle hands on her shoulders.

He got a few steps in then stopped. Something inside had his attention. Lisa squeezed past to see Drew in the far chair looking at them funny, and an old couple sitting on the couch facing the TV. They weren’t just kind of old like Suzie or Drew. They were real old, with gray hair, wrinkles, the works.

“Are you talking about Big Jim who drives a van that looks like it has leprosy?” The old woman said with a kindly smile.

“Y-y-y-yes!”

“And you are Emma?”

Emma nodded, her head flopping up and down.

“You poor thing. Come on in and let’s talk about it.”

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