Monday, July 28, 2014

Part 22



"Don't call me a liar Jace."

"I'm not.  I'm just asking."

I didn't see the difference but let it go since Lee could sometimes be that kind of guy stupid too.  "Yeah, everything I've told you up to this point has been the truth."

"But there are things you've left out."

I shrugged.  "Of course.  Just like you left out how you know that your uncle is really dead."

He looked at me sharply then looked quickly towards the door at the back of the store.  "Yeah.  But don't you dare say anything to Sammy.  Uncle Simon was Sammy's step dad."

"John-John's too?"

"No, a his, hers, and theirs."

It took me a sec to understand he meant a blended family.  "OK.  So you understand that I've got my business that you don't need or want to know about.  You respect mine, I'll respect yours."

"Fine.  But ... look ... you really can't say jack to Sammy about it or ... or ..."

"She'll go crazy?"

He sighed.  "I think she's already crazy.  Her mom could be bat shit ..."

"Hey!"

He made a face but then said, "Her mom could be crazy too.  Bipolar, but she was fine so long as she stayed on her meds, and that's the way that Sammy is starting to act."

"Her little brother too?"

"No, John-John is ADHD.  Basically he just does things off the wall to see what happens when he does.  And he hardly sleeps and won't stay still.  He's just a handful but basically harmless."

"Yeah right.  Whatever you say."

"Don't," he said warningly.

"Look, they're your family.  That's cool.  But that little kid ... he just poked my skinned up knee like he was digging for gold or something, like he wanted to see what I would do because he knew it would hurt me.  That's really, really bent.  And Sammy?  I am not even going to tell you how much she seemed to enjoy looking to see if I had any bite marks."

I shuddered in remembrance of the icky feeling she'd given me and Jace looked troubled.  "They haven't been around other people for a while.  They've just forgotten how to act.  Kinda gone feral maybe."

I shrugged but wanted to say keep telling yourself that.  Given the people that I had had to deal with in the city I knew crazy when I saw it and it was written in day glo spray paint all over Sammy and John-John even then.

Out of left field he asked me, "What's your plans?"

I looked at Jace and giving him the face that the question deserved.  "And why should I tell you?"

"Like you said, being alone isn't any good.  You gotta sleep sometime."

"I'm doing alright."

"I could have shot you."

"And sometimes people die.  It was my choice to sit on that bench.  Sometimes even little choices like that get you dead ... or infected ... and having people around doesn't stop it."

He quickly came back with what I thought was a random question.  "Why did you jump like that when you saw John-John for the first time?"

"Have you ever seen little puss brains?"

He sighed.  "Not many ... but ... but a few."

"Yeah, so wanna pick another question?" I asked him since if he'd seen other little puss brains the answer was obvious.

He sighed again and I was getting kind of tired of hearing it.  "OK, how about this one.  Why don't you stay here?  At least for a while?"

"Are you as crazy as they are?!  You don't know me.  I don't know you.  And Sammy ... geez ... I don't have a death wish you know."

"I'll take care of Sammy.  I'll tell her it is because there will be someone else to help take care of John-John."

I shook my head.  "No.  Uh uh.  I've done my fair share of babysitting but ..."

"I didn't say it would be the real reason."

I looked at him suspiciously.  He scowled.  "And not because of that either.  If I wanted it Sammy has been all but tying me down trying to force me for the last month."

Then I saw him shudder and realized something.  There might be more guys out there that didn't like weirdness than I'd been thinking there might be.  "You don't want me to stay for Sammy," I said carefully.  "Or John-John.  You want ... want ... I don't know ... like a ... a ... buffer.  Between Sammy and you."

Slowly he admitted, "Something like that."  Looking at the door one more time he added quietly, "If there were more people she might ... might stop."

I felt sorry for him all of a sudden.  "Once people go weird they usually keep going that direction.  At least that is what I saw in the city."

"Maybe.  Maybe not.  I just can't take this anymore.  And the weather is about to change."

"How do you know?"

"Uncle Simon's barometer.  He didn't trust the weathermen," he grinned sadly.  "He had his own homemade weather station and was pretty good at it.  He taught me to use it when I would come here to spend the summer with my grandparents.  They owned this place before Uncle Simon took over."

"You can't make me stay."

He looked like he wanted to deny it but then he shoulders slumped and he finally put the rifle all the way down.  "No.  I can't.  But ... I'm asking you to stay ... for a ... just a day or two ... something ... I feel like ... I feel like they are driving me ..."

At that moment there was a deep rumble of thunder and I ran up to the front of the store and looked out the window.  "What they heck?!  Where did those clouds come from?!"

And when it picked that moment to start raining huge dry weather drops Jace said, "I told you a change in the weather was coming."

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