Chapter: 11 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Isaac contented, undaunted. “Tay, don’t you think you should call her? She’s your best friend, and you haven’t even spoken to her, since you got back. You haven’t spoken to anyone since you got back, but this is Tiffy. You really should call her.”
“Tay, she’s worried about you!”
Taylor rolled over to face his brother. “Ike.”
“If you don’t go away, right now, I will become violent. I’m not calling her, I’m not talking to her, I don’t want to know what she thinks of me. Can you see this?”
“Don’t they ever go away? You’d think they have lives, or something.” Isaac sighed as he ruefully watched the group of assorted press standing near the end of the house’s long driveway, shadows long in the evenings sunset. “Hey, you guys wonder if they sleep out there all night? Think they have like beds and stuff in those vans? Maybe on weekends they get together and have little picnics and set up volleyball games. Channel 5 vs the Tulsa Star Press.” When he heard nothing out of his brothers he turned around. “Guys you…”
He frowned as he realized half of his audience had left the room and the other half was snoring. “Fine then,” he muttered. Taking one last glance at the fiasco at the end of the drive, Isaac closed the blind and walked over towards Taylor’s bed, where his brother was laying, one arm hanging off the side of the bed, mouth open.
Isaac plopped on the floor next to the bed. He sighed. Taylor was only marginally better company when he was awake, anyway. He was so apathetic, it took a major act of God to get him to move. Well, maybe waking him up would motivate him to do something, even if just yell.
“Hey,” he said. Leaning back on his hands, he used his foot to jiggle Taylor’s limp arm. “HEY!” he called louder. He began to lightly smack at the arm with his bare foot, watching, somewhat amused as it flopped back to it’s original position.
“Taylor, wakie wakie,” Isaac sang in a high pitched voice.
Suddenly the arm was pulled onto the bed and Isaac found himself looking into a pair of glaring blue eyes.
“Ike, I swear to God. Touch me one more time and I am gonna have to hurt you.” Taylor punctuated his statement by rolling onto his side, his back facing Isaac.
“All right, geez.” Isaac rolled his eyes. “Oh hey Tay? While you’re awake can I ask you something?”
“What?” Taylor grumbled.
“Did you ever call Tiffany back?”
Isaac sighed. “Tay, she’s called asking for you like four times today. The least you could have done is call her back.”
Isaac contented, undaunted. “Tay, don’t you think you should call her? She’s your best friend, and you haven’t even spoken to her, since you got back. You haven’t spoken to anyone since you got back, but this is Tiffy. You really should call her.”
“Tay, she’s worried about you!”
Taylor rolled over to face his brother. “Ike.”
“If you don’t go away, right now, I will become violent. I’m not calling her, I’m not talking to her, I don’t want to know what she thinks of me. Can you see this?”
“But Tay, she doesn’t…”
“Ike!!! Just shut up and go away!!!” He turned his back on his brother again.
Isaac made a face and stuck his tongue out at his brother’s back. “Fine, but where might I ask, do you suggest I go? Hmmm? It’s not like I can just leave the house or anything. Not with the mob squad hanging around on the lawn.”
“Ike, there’re eight other rooms in this house. I’m sure there’s something to do in one of them. Now lemme alone, I’m trying to sleep.”
“I’m sure there’s something to do in one of them,” Isaac mimicked Taylor’s voice sarcastically.
“Sheesh, sorry. You’re a big help, you know that? I’m dying of boredom, and it’s only 8 o’clock, why can’t you get up for a while? You’ve only been lying there all day.” He kicked his brother’s bed a couple of times.
A hand crept up from the shadow of the bed and gave Isaac the bird. Isaac felt his heart leap triumphantly. Being flipped off was rude, but it was a sign of life. It was easier and easier to invoke those, lately. Patting himself on the back, glad he’d inspired a reaction in Mr. Apathy, he snickered and left the room, heading for the living room. The TV was on and he figured maybe his parents would be doing something of interest. Maybe Zac would be in there.
As he walked into the room he found his parents and Zac. However, interesting would not be a word to describe what they were doing. Zac had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace, and his father was at the table, apparently doing some sort of paperwork. His mother was watching a stupid made for TV movie. One of the 8 o’clock on Monday night things. He hated those.
He stood in the doorway watching for a moment. No one acknowledged his presence. Crinkling his brow, Isaac walked into the room and flopped onto the end of the couch by his mother’s feet. She briefly looked at him and flashed a small smile, then continued watching the movie. Hoping to get his point across he sighed loudly. Nothing. Isaac frowned. He sighed a little louder, waiting for a reaction. Either his family was ignoring him or… no there was no or, he thought. They are ignoring me. He raised an eyebrow and began to hum the Miami Vice theme loudly. That got a reaction.
“Ike?” His father looked over at him.
“If you’re going to do that go into another room. I have to concentrate and your mother is watching TV.” Walker returned his attention to his work.
Isaac threw his hands into the air. “Fine,” he grumbled.
“Honey, if you’re bored, why don’t you read a book or something?” his mother suggested.
“Mom, I’ve read every book I own… twice. What do you think I’ve been doing cooped up in this house for the past month?”
Diana sighed. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you then. I’m sorry you can’t go anywhere. You could go to sleep…”
“Mom, it’s not even 9 o’clock”
She shrugged. “Sorry, I wish I knew what to tell you.”
“Whatever,” he mumbled. He walked out of the room. Standing in the dark hallway for a moment, he contemplated going into the garage and fooling around on his guitar for awhile, but then decided against it. They would probably tell him to be quiet in there too.
“This sucks,” he said aloud. “Wait a minute,” he thought. “Why am I letting these stupid people keep me locked away in here like some prisoner. I’m not in jail. I can leave this house if I want to. The worst they can do is follow me.”
With a determined air about him, he walked to the front door. Opening it, he stepped onto the front walk. The flurry of action from the vans shocked him. Cameras were hoisted. People began to shout questions. Isaac gave a small yelp and jumped back inside, slamming the door.
“Ike? What are you doing?”
“Nothing mom! I just wanted to get some fresh air. I think I’m gonna go back in my room now.”
“All right. Check on the girls while you go up would you? Make sure they’re sleeping.”
“Yeah, yeah. I will.” Isaac dejectedly walked back upstairs, pausing to look in his sisters’ room. They were sleeping peacefully. He smiled and shut their door again. He decided to check on Mac too, and after making sure his brother was fine, he went to his bedroom. Taylor was still on his side, breathing deeply. Every once in a while his breath would hitch and come out like a jagged sigh.
Isaac sat at the computer desk and sighed. flipping on the small desk lamp, he decided to go online and see if any of his friends were signed on. As he waited impatiently for AOL to connect he absently fiddled with Zac’s collection of bottle caps that were supposed to be in a box, but somehow always seemed to be scattered on the desk and floor. Why Zac collected such useless things was beyond him, but it seemed to make the kid happy so who was going to argue. Finally, after having to re-sign on because he had been punted the minute it had connected, Isaac was finally able to check his e-mail. As he read a few messages from his friends asking where he had been lately, he was IM:ed.
Hey Ike. It’s Tiff. How ya doing?
He smiled and typed back. Bored out of my skull. You?
LOL! I feel the same! Just surfing around. How’s Tay? And that little punk Zac?
Okay, I guess. They’re both sleeping.
At 8:30? Kids… hehe.
No kidding. Hey look, sorry Tay didn’t call you back. I gave him the message, but…
Well… I guess I understand. I don’t know why he’s shutting me out, but he just needs space now. I can wait.
Space? HA… What he needs is a good swift kick where the sun don’t shine. I swear sometimes he acts like he’s the only one this whole thing effects. But since it’s mainly centered on him, I guess he has a small point. It still gets annoying at times though. It’s not you though, it’s not that he’s shutting you out. He’s just ignoring the whole world. Makes me want to just take him and shake him.
I can understand how you feel. Well, no… actually I can’t. But I sympathize with you… how’s that?
Thanks, appreciate it.
Well, look, tell him to take his time. I’m sure he’ll talk to me when he’s up to it.
No, you know… forget that. It isn’t fair to you. You’ve been friends with us for too long. I’ll get him to talk to ya… never fear.
Well, don’t force him… Like I said… I don’t want to piss him off or anything. Want to stay on his good side.
I don’t think he has a good side anymore… j/k.
I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
Suddenly Isaac had an idea. Hey, mind if I came over for awhile? Is it too late?
No, that would be fine.
Are you going to be able to get out of the house? I saw all the vans and stuff when we drove by earlier today.
I have my ways.
All right evil one. See ya in a few?
Isaac quickly signed off. He grabbed his shoes and hastily put them on. Taking his jacket from it’s spot on the floor, he walked over to the window that faced the front of the house. Still surrounded. Walking over to the windows that faced the backyard and woods, he opened the blinds. Not a soul in sight. Isaac grinned.
He glanced at Taylor, and mumbled softly, “Fine. If you won’t go to her, I’m bringing her to you. And you have nothing to say about it, pal. Nothing.”
He pulled the blind up and opened the window. Carefully sliding the screen up, he checked once to make sure Taylor was still sleeping, then he eased himself out of the window, and grabbed onto the huge, old maple tree that stood next to the house. Wrapping his legs around a thick limb, he closed the glass and screen again. For a moment, he hung, the gentle breeze making the leaves around him rustle. He took a deep breath, savoring the fresh air. Then remembering he had a task at hand he quickly scaled his way down the tree and dropped to the ground. Sitting crouched for a minute, he listened to see if the group out front had managed to hear him. Apparently not, for he couldn’t hear anything but the gentle sounds of a quiet Tulsa night. He smiled and lightly patted himself on the back for getting out of the house undetected. Making sure to stay along the edge of the house, he inched his way along until he reached a batch of trees. Jumping behind them, he took a second glance over his shoulder to confirm that he was going to be able to get away without anyone knowing. Satisfied that he was in the clear, Isaac took off at a slow jog, making his way through the woods, heading towards the road that lay behind his house.
The walk to the Brody’s only took Isaac fifteen minutes. He rang the doorbell and waited until the French doors were opened. He looked up at Ellen Brody, and grinned.
“Isaac!” Her voice was surprised, pleased, and a little reproachful. “It’s about time you got on over here. But…” She peered past him, only half joking. “Nobody followed you, did they?”
He laughed. “No, no nobody followed me.”
Smiling, she stepped back. “Come on in here, you. I want to get a look at you, go stand where I can see you.”
Mrs. Brody opened the door and Isaac stepped inside the cozy home. He let himself into the living room, and obligingly stood in the light.
Ellen looked him over, arms crossed. “Well… you’ve looked better. How are you doing? And the rest of the family? None of you ever called us…” Her tone became faintly accusing, “So we haven’t had any idea. You doing okay, Ike?”
He nodded. “I’m okay. Thanks. How about you?”
“We…” she glared at him pointedly, “Are just fine. But tell me, how is it at home? How are things going?”
His smile faded. He’d known she’d ask. Still wished she hadn’t.
“It’s tough, but you know, we’re hanging in there.”
“Ike… Let us know if we can help. I mean that.”
He nodded. “I will.”
Again her crossed arms. “And you can stop being polite. If you want to stop talking about it, all you have to do is say “Ellen, I don’t want to talk about it.”
He smiled. “Ellen? I don’t want to talk about it.”
Laughing she cuffed him lightly. “Fresh kid… Well, Tiffany is up in her room, still on that computer. I don’t know how she can stay on that thing for hours at a time.”
Isaac laughed. “Just like Tay. I have to force him at gunpoint to leave the chair if I even want to get close to our desk.”
“No wonder he and Tiff are such good friends.”
Isaac sighed. “Yeah.”
“Well, go on up. I don’t want to keep you.”
Isaac thanked Mrs. Brody again and headed for Tiffany’s room. Knocking, he slowly opened the door and let himself in. Tiffany was still online. “Hey,” he said.
She turned around, “Hey, that was quick.”
Isaac was once again taken aback by how much she resembled Taylor. Down to the long blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, they could almost be twins.
“Yeah, well, I’m amazing, what can I say.” He walked over and sat on her bed. “Look, I have a small favor to ask you.”
Tiffany furrowed her brow. “What kind of favor?”
“This is a good favor, I swear.”
Tiffany scrutinized him. “I don’t know Ike. The last time you asked me to do you a small favor I remember being grounded for almost two weeks.”
Isaac laughed. “I swear, this has nothing to do with wanting to earn extra money by setting up a kissing booth and making all the neighborhood kids pay a dollar for a real kiss with a genuine girl. I can’t believe you still bring that up anytime I ask you for a favor. That was years ago. And, if I might add I still think it was a good idea for an twelve year old.”
“Yeah, well my parents weren’t all that thrilled about seeing their ten year old daughter play Traci Lords to half the neighborhood.”
“I thought my parents were going to kill me. I had Taylor and Zac parading up and down the street with sandwich boards advertising to all the kids. I think my mother turned about ten shades of red that day.”
They both laughed at the memory. Suddenly Isaac was serious again.
“But really. I want you to come with me back to my house. I think you need to talk to Taylor. I’ve tried but he doesn’t want to listen to me. Figures he can snap at me all he wants ’cause I’m his brother. I don’t think he’ll be so quick to snap at you.”
Tiffany sighed. “He isn’t doing to hot is he?”
Isaac shook his head. “That’s just it. I don’t know. He doesn’t talk to us. He either grunts a response, or is like huh? I’ve taken to calling him the thing, because he’s just like this lump that sits there and doesn’t do anything. It’s really disturbing. I thought maybe if he talked to you…” He paused and just shrugged. “I don’t really know what I thought. I’m willing to try anything at this point. I’m this close to losing it. I really am. I can’t deal with this anymore. My parents have just sort of accepted it and say to give him space blah blah blah. Zac just sort of tiptoes around him like he’s afraid Tay’s gonna explode at any second. The little ones… geez… I don’t even know what they think about this whole thing. It’s gotta be weird for them too. Tay used to always play with them. Now, nothing.” Isaac took a deep breath. “He talked to my dad, all night, a few nights ago, and we thought he’d be better, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. I’ve tried and tried to get him to call you, but he just looks at me… I don’t know. Sometimes I think he’s better, he gets attitude with me, and stuff, but it always goes away.” He looked bleakly up at her. “I know he misses you, I know he wants to see you so bad, but he’s too ashamed to call you…” He trailed off, not sure what else to say.
Tiffany listened to him intently and when she was sure he was done she stood up. “Let’s go, then, no sense hanging around here.” She grabbed her coat. Ike followed, heading down the stairs.
“Tiff? Where’re you going?”
“I’m going to the Hanson’s mom. Ike asked me to help him with something..”
“You’re going to walk? This late?”
“Mom, it’s barely 9 o’clock. Ike is with me, we’ll be fine.”
“Well, all right, but don’t stay to late. And don’t walk home alone. I’ll come pick you up if I have to.”
“I won’t, thanks mom.”
They walked in silence, Ike wondering what kind of explosion would greet him, when Tay saw Tiffy, and Tiff wondering what she was going to find when she got there.
When they got to the back road, TIffany stopped. “Where are you going?”
“We have to go through the back yard. To many people out front.”
“Oh, that’s right. How could I forget.”
They made their way to the back of the house, but when Isaac bypassed the back door and headed for the maple tree, Tiffany stopped again.
Isaac, who was already starting to climb the tree, halted. “What?”
“Umm, what are you doing?”
“I’m going into my house, what does it look like I’m doing?”
“Well, call me crazy but from where I’m standing it appears as though you are climbing a tree.”
“Well, yeah. We’re gonna go in through the window.”
“Shhh… geez, want them to hear you? I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving. I don’t want to get in trouble.” He made his way easily up through the branches, but paused again when he realized Tiffany was still on the ground. “Are you coming?”
Tiffany really didn’t understand Isaac’s pressing need to force her up the tree, but resigned herself to the fact that he wasn’t going to let her go through the door and began to slowly climb.
“Ike, if I fall and kill myself, you are going to be so sorry, because I will come back from the dead and make your life a living hell.”
Isaac laughed. “You’re not going to fall. Don’t worry.” As he spoke, he slid the window open, and began to slip inside.
“You could at least wait to make sure I get up this stupid tree before you go climbing inside, geez.”
“All right, all right.” Isaac waited, one leg in the window, the other stretched and resting on a tree branch. When Tiffany was right below him he climbed in the window and then reached out, to help her in. It all would have gone well, if he’d looked at where he was putting his feet.
“Ike?” Tiffany held her spinning head. If he didn’t stop laughing, she was going to pop him one. “Ike!!”
“What?” He was laughing so hard he could barely speak.
“Ike shut up… I have a concussion here…” He tried with every ounce of energy he had to stop laughing. For a moment, his face was comically twisted, in an attempt not to smile, but it was too much for him, and he fell over again, hysterical. It had just been so funny. He’d been reaching back to help her into the room, slipped on a magazine, and fallen over, yanking her headfirst into the room, through a chair, and onto the floor. The crash had been astounding. Now the pissed off look on her face was just taking him apart. It was just too funny.
Tiffany watched him for a moment. The thought of smiling was so far from her mind it wasn’t funny. She was going to kill him. That was it.
“You suck…” She swung as hard as she could, belting him right in the head. He yelped, grabbing his head, still unable to stop laughing.
He sat up, one hand out to block her… “Tiffy, Tiffy, cut it out…” His continued laughter prompted another smack, this one hard enough to knock him back down…
Taylor had slept through the spectacular crash of Tiffany and Ike’s entrance to his room. With all the people in the family, crashes weren’t at all uncommon. The brawl was beginning to penetrate though, and the constant jostling from bodies striking the foot of the bed, finally woke him up. Blinking stupidly at the forms careening around the room, he attempted to speak.
“Waha djo gsy daoing… WHAT TAYLOR???” He stopped himself and shook his head, knowing his mouth and brain hadn’t yet connected. Untangling his tongue, he tried again. “Hey! What are you guys doing?! Could you take it someplace else?”
Getting no response, he sat up, and raised his voice. “Hey!! Want to cut it out please? People are trying to sleep here.” Leaning on one hand, he squinted into the murk, trying to make out just who he was yelling at.
“What’s going on, anyway?” Tiffany gave Ike one last shove, and ambled over to Taylor, still holding her head. “Sorry, Tay, but you’re brother tried to kill me just now.”
Taylor jumped a little at the voice. “Tiffany?”
“Yeah, who else would you expect to find beating up Ike in your bedroom?” She reached for the bedside lamp. “Watch your eyes, Tay…” and flipped it on. Perching on the edge of his bed, she eyed him critically. “Well I guess I wasn’t missing much. You look like hell…” Her voice trailed off. He didn’t exactly look thrilled to see her, and she was wondering if she should leave. Her eyes stated her confusion, and he read her easily.
“No, Tiffy, it’s okay. I’m glad to see you.” He reached up then, and pulled her down for a hug, surprising her. Taylor had never been particularly touchy with her, unless you counted wrestling.
She returned his embrace, absurdly touched, and more than a little worried. He wasn’t just hugging her, he was clutching her, there was a certain desperation to it.
“I really missed you…” His voice was a faint whisper in her ear.
She disengaged herself gently. “Funny way of showing it, Taylor…” She chided softly. “I’ve only been trying to see you for a month. I missed you too…”
He smiled then, and she relaxed a little. A gentle tap on her shoulder made her turn, and she shoved over to give Ike room to sit down.
“Tay, sit up so we can fit, would you?” He complied, and Ike climbed over him to lean against the wall. “Well, this is cozy. Tiffy, you gave me a fat lip.”
She laughed, as Taylor examined his brother. “Hey Tiff, you really did!! Were you guys really fighting?” His voice was vaguely worried, and she laughed…
“Maybe I was. He made me climb the tree to come in here, and tried to cave my skull in…”
“Climb the tree? Ike why’d you do that? Are you nuts? Why were you climbing the tree?” He turned to Tiffany, dead serious, “He fell out of that tree once. We thought he busted his leg. You’d think he’d learn.” He made a face at his brother, and gave Tiffany a nudge… “Lemme up Tiff…”
She slid aside, noticing as he climbed over her, how much weight he’d lost. She saw him stagger slightly when he stood up, and jumped to her feet, steadying him with a hand on his shoulder.
He smiled faintly. “It’s okay Tiff, I just got up too quick. I’ll be right back.”
She watched him walk out the door, and turned to Ike, a question in her eyes.
He shrugged. “He’s in pretty tough shape, Tiffy, he went through a lot. We all did.” He laid back onto Taylor’s pillow. “That’s part of why he wouldn’t see you Tiff, he didn’t want anyone seeing him like this.”
She snorted. “Ike, it’s just me for heavens sake. It’s not like I care how he looks. Well, I do, but not ’cause it matters, just ’cause I worry about him… I am just not making sense.”
He laughed, “Sure you are, I know what you mean. Part of it is he’s so ashamed of himself. He’s really convinced that all of his friends are going to think he’s just useless. He’s scared Tiffy, y’know?”
She nodded. “I can see why, but most of us are just worried him. Worried about all of you guys. You’re like prisoners here, it’s really not fair. And…” She stretched out next to him, “We never get to see you.”
He smiled and slid an arm around her. “Well, we’re working on getting rid of the…” He broke off as Taylor came back into the room.
Ike’s eyes narrowed. Taylor looked a little funny to him. A little pale, eyes a little watery. Taylor caught his look.
“What Ike? What are you staring at?”
He was sniffing and swallowing more than normal, and Ike nodded.
“You got sick again, didn’t you? Tay you have to say something about that…”
Taylor shook his head, “No, I’m fine, you worry too much.”
“Like hell, look at you. You did, didn’t you? ”
“NO, Ike, I’m FINE…” He scowled at his brother. “Zac’s on his way up, and mom says Tiffy has to go downstairs if we want to visit…” He was smirking a little. “Guess you’re not as smart as you thought you were. You want to come downstairs Tiffy? Or did you want to just climb back down the tree?”
Tiffany laughed, “I’ll go down and hang out a while if it’s okay with you guys… and it had better be…” She glanced pointedly at Ike.
He shrugged, looking sheepish, and pushed his way past Tay. “You coming too? Are you really gonna venture from the room?”
Taylor shoved him, “Shut up. I leave the room all the time. Tiffy, come on…”
Ike laughed as he watched them go, Tay was more animated than he’d been in a long time.