Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.
Chapter 6 — Living with Tom’s Family
Mr. Williams phoned Mom about picking up my stuff.
“Curt, your mother has agreed that you can pick up some clothes and whatever you need for school this afternoon at 3:30. CPS didn’t have anyone available to meet us there, so Brian called your mother and she agreed that you can take anything you need. I made an appointment to see the notary at 2:45. So since it’s 2:30 let’s leave now. Okay?”
“Sure. I’m looking forward to getting some clothes and my computer.”
Tom walked into the living room. “Hey, can I go too?”
Mr. Williams warned him, “You’re going to be bored. There’s nothing exciting about having something notarized, and you can’t go in when we get Curt’s things unless his mother gives her permission. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Is my coming along okay with you, Curt?”
“Yeah. That way we can talk about what I should say about my broken arm and bruises when I go back to school Tuesday.”
We finished at the notary in under 15 minutes. That meant we had over half an hour before we were supposed to be at my house… no, at my mother’s house, to pick up some clothes and books and my laptop and whatever else I’d need for a month.
“We’re early,” Mr. Williams stated, “so do you want to stop for ice cream or a coffee drink?”
Tom answered, “Coffee! Let’s go to Peet’s.” That was fine with me. An extra bold Freddo would be great. The caffeine would help me stay awake.
We sat in a back corner with our drinks. I had some questions for Mr. Williams.
“I assume my mom will be there when we get my stuff.”
“Yes. And please be civil with her. Let me answer any questions that relate to Donald Clarey and what he did to you and where you’re going. Don’t tell her you’ll be staying with us. Okay?”
“Okay. My backpack isn’t going to be big enough to carry everything. Can we ask her for a couple of grocery bags?”
“I brought three of Tom’s large gym bags. They should be sufficient.”
“This seems so freaky, going to what used to be my home to get my stuff so I can be at your place… which I won’t tell her about. I wonder if she washed my dirty clothes. Probably not. She’s been too distracted.”
Tom chimed in. “You can wash your clothes at our house. I do mine, so I can show you how much soap and the settings on the washer and stuff like that.”
“Okay. Mom always did the washing because there wasn’t enough stuff to wash separately.”
“Since you don’t have much, we can add your stuff to mine to save water and electricity.”
I snickered. “Ewww! Put my clothes in the same water as your dirty underwear? That’s something I don’t want to think about.”
“Hey, you’ll be putting your dirty briefs in with my clothes, so don’t complain about my boxers, Mr. Clean!”
“I’ll have you know that my briefs are clean. Almost clean enough to wear for another month.” I grinned and stuck my tongue out at Tom.
Tom shook his shoulders like he was cold. “That’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard. In my entire life! What about all those stains on the front? You’ll be infecting my clothes with your emissions!” He busted up laughing.
Mr. Williams shook his head and rolled his eyes upward. “Why did I ever have a teenager? Why?”
“Because, Dad, when you have a baby it grows up to be a teenager and then it's perfect. Right?”
“Just think, Tom, I could have put a stop to all this by exercising my prerogative by shipping you off somewhere before you turned into a teen. Hmmm… there’s no reason I couldn’t do it now. I wonder where I put that directory of military schools.”
“You’d never do that. If you did, you wouldn’t have anyone to harass and humiliate.”
“And what do you think you were just doing? Trying to humiliate Curt!”
We all laughed at this back-and-forth kidding, but I was feeling sad too. With no Dad there was no one I could kid around with like Tom and his dad were doing.
“Okay, guys, it’s 3:20, time to go.”
When we got to my house Mom answered the door. She looked a little better than when she met with me and Mr. Williams earlier today.
“Come on in. You can go to your room and get whatever you’ll need, Curt. I’ll talk to Mr. Williams while you’re doing that.”
“Is it okay if Tom gives me a hand?”
“Of course. Why don’t you join me in the kitchen, Michael.”
Tom and I went into my bedroom. What used to be my bedroom.
“Okay, I’ll pull out clothes. How often will be washing clothes?”
“Once a week. So if you get a two-week supply of clothes you should be fine.”
“Okay.” I started by pulling out briefs and T’s and socks and putting them in one of the gym bags. Then it was pants and shorts and shirts in the other bag. I grabbed a light jacket and a heavier one that had a hood, and a hoodie, and put them in the bag with my underwear. An extra pair of tennies went on top. I didn’t bother with my gym clothes because I wouldn’t be dressing out for the next month what with my broken arm. Next my books and laptop went in my backpack, and other books went into the third gym bag along with some CDs and DVDs and Xbox games that I knew Tom didn’t have.
“I guess that’s all.”
“How ‘bout your MP3 player?”
“Oh, yeah.” That went into a pocket on my backpack.
“How about your alarm clock?”
“Yup. If I’m going to get to school on time I’ll need that.” That went into one of the bags.
“How about your cellphone charger?”
“Damn! How could I forget that. And the one for my laptop, and the one for my MP3 player, and my earbuds, too.” They went into one of the bags.
“Is that it, Curt?”
“Yeah, I think so. Thanks for reminding me of stuff I would have forgotten. Next is bathroom stuff.”
There wasn’t really much, just my toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, hairbrush and comb, deodorant, cologne, and my electric razor.
“You use a razor? Really?”
“Sure. Maybe once every week or two.”
“On what? Your pubes?” He started laughing.
“Perv! On my upper lip. I hate that dark hair. I’m light skinned so it shows, even when there’s just a little. I hate how it looks. Makes me look old.”
I added my shampoo and body wash, after making sure the bottles were closed tight.
“I guess that’s it.”
We joined Mom and Mr. Williams in the kitchen.
“Okay, I think I’ve got everything I’ll need.”
Mr. Williams stood. “Thank you, Virginia. You said you wanted to say a few words to Curt before he leaves. So Curt, Tom and I will take the bags out to the car and we’ll wait for you there.”
I stood there, my backpack slug across my right shoulder, my left arm in a sling, the bruise on my face now a multicolor mess. I looked at Mom, waiting for her to say something. That seemed same-as same-as.
“Curt, I’m not going to contest that you’re going to be under the protection of CPS. I talked to a lawyer and that’s one of the things he advised. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened, the things that make you distrust me. I think it’s better if you’re not here when Don gets out on bail. My lawyer says he sees no reason that he wouldn’t be granted bail.”
She stood and walked in front of me. “I love you, Curt. You’re my son. Somehow I’ve messed up our relationship. I want to make that up to you, and I hope you’ll wait until whatever is going to happen, happens.”
She stepped up to me, gave me a bit of a hug on my right shoulder, and kissed my right cheek, just sort of a peck. It surprised me that there was no real emotion. None from her, and none that I felt either. Her expression was neutral, and I think mine was the same. Neither of us smiled.
“That works for me, Mom. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to me. I haven’t seen the CPS person yet. I’ve got my cell in case you need to get in touch with me. Thanks for letting us pick up the things I’ll need for the next month. Is it okay if I need something else to call you and arrange to pick that up?”
“Certainly. You can come by anytime, just give me a call so I can let you know the best time to come. You still have your key?”
I took a deep breath. This was like when you're breaking up with someone and it's mutual.
I turned and walked out of the house. When I got in the car I saw that she’d come out onto the front porch. She waved to me, and I waved back. The car backed out of the driveway and we were on the way to the Williams’ home, a place that would be my home for the next month. I thought about that. Yes, it was a home. Something that the house that I used to live in used to be.
No one said anything as we drove the short distance. That silence continued when we arrived, and all the way upstairs as Tom and I went to my room, my little corner that I would now call my home. I put the gym bag I was carrying on the bed, and slipped my backpack off my shoulder and laid it next to the two other bags Tom had put on the bed.
I turned and looked at him, and unbidden tears ran down my cheeks. He pulled me into a hug, being careful to avoid pushing against my left arm. We stood there like that, with me crying silently and Tom holding me, my head on his shoulder, for at least two or three minutes. My thoughts were a jumble. They included thoughts of my mother, of my dad, of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, of friends from school, of Don, of my grandmother, of skateboarding, of running track, of Tom. Especially of Tom.
Finally he pulled back and looked at me. It seemed he wanted to ask me something, but I didn’t want any questions so I leaned in and kissed him softly and quickly on the lips, then pulled back. He was grinning.
“Bet that’s never happened to us before.”
“Being kissed by a guy.”
“Nope. It was nice.”
“Yeah, it was.”
He slowly leaned in, smiling all the time, and our lips met and we kissed, this time really kissed. We were both participating in the kiss, and it was wonderful. It was what I needed right at this moment. But I knew it went beyond this moment, that it was the start of something important between me and Tom.
“Excuse me, boys.”
Oh my god! It was Mr. Williams. I tensed up and started to pull away, but Tom pulled me more tightly against him and continued the kiss for a few seconds. I relaxed and we turned to the open door where Mr. Williams was standing, smiling. Smiling!
Tom took my right hand in his.
“I wondered if you were finished unpacking, but I can see that you hadn’t started yet. Tom, your mother wants to know if you wanted something to eat.” He held up his right hand. “I know you want something to eat. You always want something to eat. And Curt, I assume that goes for you too.”
“I am a bit hungry,” I replied. It amazed me that I wasn’t embarrassed being caught kissing his son. I turned to Tom.
“How ‘bout you, Tom?”
He stared into my eyes. “Oh, I don’t know. We’re pretty busy here getting you set up in your new room.” He turned to his dad. “Just kidding! I could go for something to eat, maybe a piece of last night’s fried chicken?”
“Well, wash your hands and come on down when you’re ready.” He turned and walked away.
“Well, that was fun! Did you like it as much as I did, Curt?”
I looked at Tom, realizing that he meant the kiss, and wondering what the hell had really happened. But that was something we could talk about later.
“Yes, I did. I don’t understand it, but I liked it. A lot.”
“I thought you needed a hug. You looked so sad when we left your mom’s house. I guess it went a little beyond a hug.” He laughed. “You don’t look sad any more. You look gobsmacked!”
I busted up laughing, partly as a result of what had just happened, and because I didn’t know what ‘gobsmacked’ meant, but I did know it sounded funny.
“Wha… what’s gobs… gobsmacked?” I finally was able to ask through my laughing.
“Gobsmacked. It’s a wonderful word. It's used in England. It means you’re shocked, amazed, dumfounded. Dumfounded. That’s another wonderful word. I love weird words like that. I like to collect ‘em.”
“I’ve known you ever since you moved in here, what, three years ago? How come I never knew about this thing you have for words?”
“I don’t know everything about you. You don’t know everything about me. That includes that I love weird words. Now that we’re kissing cousins we’re going to learn lots of things about each other that we never would have found out before when we were just friends.”
Mr. Williams yelled up the stairs, “Hey, you guys! Didn’t you want a snack?”
“Uh oh. We’d better go down. Come on, boyfriend.”
“Yeah, Tom, you definitely are into weird words.”
With that, forgetting to wash our hands first, we went downstairs and into the kitchen, Tom holding my right hand in his left.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake
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