It was happening all over again. As if Carter hadn’t been in enough trouble the first time the cops brought home, now, they were escorting him a second time. As they stepped out of the neighbour’s house, Carter caught sight of his dad standing on their front porch with his arms crossed and his foot tapping while a myriad of emotions played across his face: relief, confusion, anger, disappointment, and fear before landing solidly on anger until it appeared he was radiating enough energy that Carter could have sworn his dad was levitating off the ground.
Around their cul de sac, red and blue lights flashed through the night and reflected off the windows of the surrounding houses. He could feel the weight of the officer’s hand as it pressed down on his shoulder steering Carter to his house.
His dad’s lips press into a tight line as he steps forward to speak with the cop. “What’s he done this time?” Carter cringed. This was it. He was going to die at the age of fifteen.
* * *
The first time the cops brought Carter home, granted he may have deserved it. But, as is usually the case with these sorts of things, there was a good reason.
“Come on, man!” Carter said, anxious to get out of there. “We’re done. Someone’s going to notice soon. Let’s go!” They were standing on the front lawn of their math teacher, Mr. Tysowski’s, house. They had just managed to empty five cartons of eggs and two packs of 24 rolls of toilet paper. His house and yard were an absolute disaster.
Taylor, however, didn’t think it was enough. He grinned and picked up a rock. “Just one more thing.” Mason, Carter’s other friend, gasped.
Taylor tossed the rock in the air and caught it a few times while he scanned the house. “Which window should I hit?”
“No way! I agreed to egg and TP his house. Not to break things,” Mason said, grabbing his bike from where he’d left it fallen on the sidewalk. “I’m outta here.”
Carter knew he should have followed, but he didn’t want to leave Taylor alone. This past year, Taylor had been dealing with a lot of shit. He wouldn’t tell them everything, but Carter and Mason had definitely noticed the bruises and marks that kept popping up since his mom’s new boyfriend had moved in.
Carter grabbed Taylor’s arm. “Enough! Let’s go.”
“Let go,” he wrenched his arm free and hurled the rock at one of the window. Shards fell from the second-story window with a crash.
While all of us were mad at Mr. Tysowski, Taylor was furious. Halfway through the year Taylor started skipping school and his grades started falling. If you want to get a teacher’s attention, that was it. Mr. Tysowski, had been the first to notice or at least the first to care. He was the one who started asking questions and giving Taylor detention every day. Then he did something unforgiveable. Suddenly Taylor had people show up at his house who told him he to live somewhere else with a strange family. And to top it all off: he had to go to summer school or Mr. Tysowski would fail him.
“Shit!” Carter yelled, as glass shards rained down from the shattered window. He turned to grab his bike, but ran full-stop into the large belly of the person behind him. “Dumb-ass kids,” a voice came from above Carter. He felt a hand grab his arm and wretch him forward. “You’ll wait until the police come,” the voice said, as the man pulled him forward and threw him to the ground. Carter tried to stand up, but the strange man standing above him forced him down again. “Stay! If I have to sit on you to make you stay, I will.”
Behind him, he could hear Taylor struggling with someone else. “Let go!” Dull thuds sounded as punches were exchanged then Taylor was likewise thrown the ground. Apparently, his captor didn’t trust Taylor as much as Carter’s, because he launched himself on Taylor and used his body to hold him to the ground.
Carter was supposed to leave in couple of days to go with Mason’s family to their cabin all summer. It was the first time his parents had agreed to let him go for the whole summer. Instead, he was grounded and spent the first week of his summer vacation cleaning Mr. Tysowski’s house and yard by himself.
That’s right. Mason got away scot-free and Taylor ended up being sent back to his foster family.
Fair? Carter sure didn’t think so.