Chapter: 27 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: “What’re you doing? Y’think my mom’s gonna be happy if one of those rocks goes through the glass?” Zac held a finger to his lips. “Hush. You think your mom’s gonna be happy if she knows I’m here? C’mon down.” Jason made a face. “You can go to the door, Zac, I’m sure it’s okay.” Zac shook his head, face uncommonly serious. “No. I don’t want anyone to know I’m here. Come on down, please?” Sighing, thinking that his friend had gone weird in the head, Jason started down the stairs.
Jason’s head snapped up. What was that? He listened closely, but the sound never repeated. Sighing, he went back to his brooding. His mom was driving him crazy. All week he’d planned to camp out in Zac’s back woods, and all week his mother had smiled indulgently about it. Now, today, she suddenly told him she was “uncomfortable” about it. Didn’t want him in the same vicinity as Taylor. He was too “unstable”. Made no sense to him. Obviously Zac’s mom and dad wouldn’t have said it was okay, if it was in any way dangerous. Didn’t matter to his mom. She’d decided no, and no it was. Frowning, Jason glanced at the phone. Zac had hung up on him. He knew why Zac was mad at him, knew that Zac more than likely thought it was him, Jay, who was afraid to go over, and not his mom. Maybe he’d call back, later, after Zac had had some time to cool off, try to explain that… click. The sound came again, cutting off his thought stream. Click click. The window. Something hitting the window? Frowning, he sidled over and peeked behind the curtain. Just as he looked, catching a glimpse of a familiar blond head in the yard below, an object struck the glass directly in front of his face. Click!
Yelping, he jumped back, then yanked the curtain open, grinning. Zac. He should have known. Opening the window, he leaned out as far as he could. “What’re you doing? Y’think my mom’s gonna be happy if one of those rocks goes through the glass?” Zac held a finger to his lips. “Hush. You think your mom’s gonna be happy if she knows I’m here? C’mon down.” Jason made a face. “You can go to the door, Zac, I’m sure it’s okay.” Zac shook his head, face uncommonly serious. “No. I don’t want anyone to know I’m here. Come on down, please?” Sighing, thinking that his friend had gone weird in the head, Jason started down the stairs.
“Zac, we can’t just take off. Are you crazy? My mom would have a fit!” Zac sighed. “Jay, I’m not asking you to run off and join the circus, okay? We were supposed to camp out, and I just am going to do it anyway. Are you in, or not?.” Jason shook his head. “No. No way. I have to live here, if I take off for the night, and don’t tell anyone, I’ve had it. Had it. I don’t even want to think about what would be left of me.” Zac eyed him, skeptically. “Jay, you’re the kid who once jumped onto the back of a train and rode it six towns over. It took you almost two days to walk home, if I remember correctly. If they didn’t kill you then, they are not gonna kill you for pitching your tent in the woods and sleeping in it.” Jason stared at him, torn. Zac was his best friend, and this was the first time he’d seen him, face to face, since he’d come home. Sure, he wanted to hang out with him, but… wait. Shock suddenly hit him. This was the first time he’d seen Zac! How could that be? Thinking about it, he realized that he’d been met with one excuse or another, every time he had suggested hooking up with Zac. 100% of his requests to be brought over had been rebuffed, ditto requests to have Zac over to his house. They’d blamed it on everything. The media crush at the end of the drive, Zac’s broken ribs, Taylor’s illness, consideration of the fact that the family was in hard times. What it all came down to, was that they didn’t want him to have anything to do with Zac. He hadn’t noticed it before, but his parents had efficiently blocked any direct contact between them. “Zacko, listen. Does it seem to you that they’ve been making sure we don’t get together?”
“Who? What do you mean?” Zac plopped down, leaning against a tree. Jay was about to go long winded on him, he could see it coming.
“My mom and dad.” He explained the situation, eyes wide, voice amazed. Zac shook his head. He hadn’t noticed, really. Time had a way of jumping around on him now, and he didn’t really connect any of the disappointments together. Jay began pacing, clarity of the situation suddenly fueling his temper. “Zac, I call you all the time. That’s okay. But every time I try to go over, or find a reason for you to come over here, they just shoot it right down.”
Zac shrugged. “Why do you even tell them? You never had to ask to come over before, you just did it.”
Jay nodded. “You didn’t have half of the Tulsa press living at the end of your driveway. Why haven’t you been over here?”
“So, see? And my mom and dad… what do you think, Zac?”
Zac dropped his eyes, hurt welling up suddenly. “Well, if they are, they’re no different from everyone else in town. After the first two weeks I was home, nobody ever came over. It’s like, as soon as everyone found out what had happened, they stopped speaking to us. We are definitely not the most popular people around right now. Everyone’s avoiding us.” He blinked back tears, hoping Jay wouldn’t notice.
Jason stood, staring, suddenly seeing the situation in a new light. Anger at his parents began to fade to pain for his friend. He’d seen his face, he’d seen the hurt there. “Everyone, Zac?” His voice was soft now, gentle. Zac nodded. “Everyone. Even…” He climbed to his feet, stepping closer to his friend, face close to Jason’s, almost touching.
“Even you, Jay.” He stepped back, and hoisted his sleeping bag. “I don’t want to get you in trouble. But I’m taking a couple days R&R. I just can’t take any more of this. See you later.” He turned, made it six steps into the woods, and stopped, grinning, when he heard Jason’s voice call out.
“Hold it! I can’t go in and get anything, they’ll catch me for sure. You got room for two in that thing?” He didn’t turn, just nodded his head, and was rewarded with the sound of running footsteps. He looked beside him, as the other boy caught up, eyes questioning. “You sure you want to do this?” Jason nodded. “Hell yes! They think they can split us up? It’s been me and you since we were three. The Terror Twins, remember? I’m in.”
Zac smiled, slightly shocked at the cuss, but happy to hear these words. Someone was finally, finally, sticking by him, and Jay had been his best friend forever. Terror Twins, indeed. He nodded, and pointed off into the woods. “Okay, then, an adventure awaits us!” The two friends struck a familiar path, and soon the darkness swallowed them, and the afternoon became quiet, save for the fading sound of boys laughter, on the wind.
CC stared blankly at the paperwork in front of him, not really seeing it. His mind grappled with the problem represented in that paperwork, refusing to give up the task. Taylor. Taylor Hanson. That kid was eating up way too much of his attention, and his time, but for the life of him, he couldn’t just let it go. He’d never been faced with someone like Taylor, before. Someone who was such an enigma. Something was happening with the boy, something bigger than any of them thought, and it was ruining him, yet nobody could find it! He’d spent hours and hours in Taylor’s company, since the incident here at the center. That incident, which left no doubt in CC’s mind that something very traumatic had happened to this boy, something he’d flashed back to, combined with Taylor’s general guardedness, his distrust, and hostility, the look in the eyes that always hinted at an expected attack, pointed to a background much like those of most of CC’s clients. Kids who’d been neglected, and abused, who’d had horrifying monstrosities visited on them by the very people they trusted to protect them. Starved for affection, unable to rely on anyone, with no skills to rely on themselves, turning to chemicals for relief. That was the puzzle, here. Taylor displayed every characteristic of one of these kids, but as far as CC was able to tell, had never experienced anything that would have caused those characteristics. His family was loving, supportive, and very very stable. They had never neglected him, never abused him. He was close to his family, loved them dearly, and readily called them his best friends. His childhood had been normal, better than average, in CC’s opinion, and there had been no hardships. No betrayals. He understood trust, and responsibility, and had never, ever suffered at the hands of one he loved. In fact, it looked to CC as if Taylor had never really suffered anything. The only thing he could find, anywhere, was the natural death of a family member, several moves in a relatively short time, and stress related to a major lifestyle change. It didn’t add up. Even throughout the death, and the changes, his family had been with him, the members mutually supportive. None of it made sense. An accidental addiction to tranquilizers, sure. It could happen. Did happen. But what on earth was he on them for in the first place? What had happened to cause such unbearable anxiety that it had been necessary to medicate him? And what about his claims that the Valium hadn’t worked? That he’d turned to Marijuana, and ultimately many other drugs, to find relief. Relief from what??? Some kind of Acute Stress Disorder? But what would have triggered it? Whatever it was, it just wasn’t here… So what on earth was going on with this kid???? He couldn’t even be decently and predictably addicted! Once he’d gotten home, he’d denied ever really craving anything, other than one bad night when faced with the actual drug itself. He had no cravings, no urges to go out and use. His addiction, if indeed he had been addicted, had been more a psychological dependence on effect, rather than a physiological addiction to a compound. Oh certainly the Valium had caused physical dependence, based on the withdrawal he’d experienced, but he showed none of the behavior typical of a newly clean addict. He wasn’t even getting therapy or peer support, and he was staying away from it just fine. No, there was definitely a bigger picture. Sighing, frustrated, he shoved aside his coffee cup, lit a fresh cigarette off the one he had just smoked down to the filter, and started over again, at the beginning.