No sooner had Jason fallen asleep than he was awoken by a hard shaking from his grandmother. Vicky had asked her mother to come to the house and watch the kids while she went to work. The boys had grown accustomed to looking after themselves, but Vicky felt more comfortable having someone there after the previous night’s incident. Their grandmother’s philosophy on watching them was making them work. She wasn’t very good at comforting speeches and sitting around wasn’t a concept she was familiar with.
Usually, on days where she came to the house she barked out orders, threatened her grandkids with the pot spoon, and would manage to get at least one of the children to cry. This time she was a little bit more sensitive to the situation, but was still stern and had the boys up, putting clothes on, and returning blankets and pillows back to their proper places within minutes. The next several hours were filled with the sounds of scrubbing, vacuuming, dishes clanging, and three obedient preteens saying “yes, gram.”
The good thing about a solid morning cleaning session was the home cooked meal that followed. On this occurrence, she made one of their favorites, a kind of french toast dish, with small chunks of bread rather than slices, some cinnamon and vanilla extract, with a little brown sugar simple syrup to go over top. She brought some bacon with her that she fried up as well. She never once mentioned what happened the night before or offered any soft words. But sitting in the middle of a spotless house, with full bellies, and the smell of brown sugar and bacon in the air, the children had all of the comfort they needed. Gram’s job was done.
She left the children a few hours before Vicky was going to be home from work. As soon as her blue minivan pulled out of the dirt alley next to the home, Jason’s best friend Steve entered the house, complaining that he never thought Jason’s grandmother was going to leave the house.
Steve lived in a trailer on the other side of the neighborhood and he came to Jason’s house every chance he could. His house was even crazier than Jason’s. The drama on Hill street was a little less frequent than it was at Capricorn Court. And it was different. Steve’s house was maybe a little less physically violent, but there was screaming and bickering back and forth all day.
The two friends took off on their bikes for a secluded hill top that overlooked the town. They were always the only two people there as they were the ones who trampled the path through the woods on the graveyard’s edge to get there. As far as they knew, they were the only two that knew how to get to their spot away from it all.
Steve asked Jason about the front door and Jason filled him in on what happened the night before. The more he shared the angrier and angrier he got. Steve became unsettled as he heard his friend cursing and making threats like he had never heard before. He witnessed Jason punching into the air, ripping branches off of trees, and throwing large stones over the hillside. Jason shouted and shouted profanities and for the first time ever, Steve was worried that someone might actually discover their private spot.
After a couple of minutes Steve, who was usually the hot headed one, always threatening to fight people and saying that he would gladly take Jason’s step dad out for him, finally pleaded with his friend to try and calm down. Jason was the rational one who would always say something sensible to keep the peace. But at that moment, Jason truly wanted to hurt someone. Mostly Ray, but he probably would have settled for anyone that would have said the wrong thing to him in the moment.
Steve sensed this and literally said “screw it” to trying to calm his friend down and instead joined him. The two cursed at the top of their lungs, punched and kicked into the air, and even tried to pull small trees out of the ground. They did this until the both fell down from exhaustion. They looked at each other as they lay on the ground breathing heavily. A quick silence came over them, and in unison, they burst into uncontrollable laughter. Neither of them knew exactly why the were laughing, but it felt good to them, so they made no effort to stop.
After some screaming and a solid laugh, Jason felt his anger had subsided a great deal, and he and his friend hopped on their bikes and rode all over Smalltown, PA. They hit up every neighborhood in town, checked out the baseball fields, the fair grounds, the mall, downtown, and every place in between. They were in such a good mood they had lost track of the time and before they knew it, the sun was going down.
Both boys needed to race home, but for different reasons. Jason’s mom would be worried that something may have happened to her son. Steve had to get home before his step dad locked the door on him. If Steve wasn’t home by his curfew, his punishment was to be left outside. The raced home as fast at they could and made it up the steep hill back to their neighborhood in record time. As they entered, the other neighborhood kids let them know their moms were both yelling for them and that they were going to be in trouble. They parted ways to go to their respective homes without saying goodbye. Jason would know if Steve got in or not, because if he didn’t, Steve would come back down to Jason’s house to sleep for the night.
Jason entered the house into the kitchen to find his mother and his brothers finishing their dinners. Vicky scolded him for running off without letting anyone know where he was going and, for at the very least, not being back in the house when the street lights went on. He tried to tell his side of the story to his mother but this only angered her and she yelled louder. Jason’s anger was rebuilding. The fact that his younger brother was smiling the entire time only made matters worse.
He was instructed he could have only a small plate of food and had to do the dishes before going to bed, and that he was grounded for the rest of the week. Jason was hungry and rarely argued with his mother. So he simply said ok, and was happy to eat dinner quietly by himself and wash the dishes away from the rest of the family.
***Day 9 in the books. I think we’re getting pretty close to big events for Jason and Cordalia. Thanks for reading.