Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Anger Games 3

It took some doing but Cam and Joe eventually talked Dave around to staying at Cam's house for a few days. Cam wasn't entirely sure since Dave could be hard to read sometimes, but he was pretty sure that the boy was pleased at the thought of staying at his house despite his initial protests. He called his wife to let her know that they'd be having company. Dave nearly
laughed when he heard her crow of delight when she learned it would be him.

"You won't be able to drive with that eye swollen shut, so I'll have Mike drive your car to my place, you'll come with me in my car, and Joe can follow in his car and bring Mike back afterward. We'll stop at your apartment to pick up some of your clothes and anything else you want to bring with you. All right?"

Dave trained his gaze on the floor and shrugged. "Cam..."

"What's up, Dave?"

"Look... I really appreciate your offer, but..."

"Come on, kid, let's not go through this again. You're coming to my house. Elisabetta and the kids are looking forward to you staying with us, and Lissie said she was going to make her strawberry rhubarb pie you always go nuts over."

Dave blushed, something he hated doing but that he seemed to have little or no control over lately. "I'm not... I'm worried that..."

Cam put his arm around the boy and led him back to the couch. "Talk to me. What's wrong?"

Dave's blush grew brighter. "I'm not a good person," he said in a rush. "I'm... there's a lot wrong with me and I'm afraid that once you get to see the real me you won't like me anymore," he muttered. "I'm a real slob and I'm lazy and..." his voice trailed off.

Cam smiled, tried not to laugh. "All right then, kid, if you're that worried about it, there are house rules and I'm going to expect you to follow them same as the kids do. All right? One of the rules is you pick up after yourself. You don't have to do your own laundry but you do have to keep your room picked up. Towels and dirty clothes go in the hamper, not on the floor. If you
use a dish or a glass you wash it as soon as you're done with it. There are a few others but we don't have to go over them right now, I just wanted to let you know it's not going to be a problem. Whenever you've visited you've always been polite and helpful, so I trust you to behave while you stay with us. Got it?"

Dave shrugged. "Those were my company manners, and they were only for a few hours. This time I'll be there for a few days."

"Listen kiddo, you're not going to be a visitor. You're family to me, one of my own kids, ok?" Cam said, placing an arm around the boys shoulders. "If you mess up I'll treat you the same as I do the others. Deal?" he grinned.

Dave nodded, trying to fight down the knot in his stomach. He just knew that he was going to do something stupid and that Cam would end up hating him. He vowed to be on his best behavior.

About a half hour later Dave, Cam, Mike and Joe arrived at Dave's apartment house. His brothers' comments aside, Dave had never been self-conscious about where he lived. But now, with the guys following closely behind as he unlocked the front door to the foyer he was acutely aware of the chipped, mossy brickwork, the flaking and peeling paint on the woodwork around the doors and windows. He'd never really noticed the grass growing in cracks in the concrete steps leading up to the door, or the three bullet holes that marred the thick glass of the door. He'd never worried before about the vile green color of the paint in the corridors, or the smell of
rusty metal coming from the iron railings that lined the stairways in the old building.

Dave lead them down the stairs and unlocked the security door. The smells of cigarette, laundry detergent and dryer sheets filled the air. There was another scent mixed in with the laundry smells. The guys had been to enough concerts in their teens to recognize the smell of pot. They looked at each other but didn't comment.

Dave turned to the right and stopped at the door to his apartment. The cigarette and pot smells were stronger here. Cam, Mike and Joe all looked at Dave with various expressions of concern.

Dave noticed the looks and hastily explained. "It's my neighbors." He said, pointing to the door to the left of them. "They're heavy smokers. Honestly, it's not me." He raised his hands in a 'nothing to hide' gesture. His direct gaze was enough to convince them that he wasn't lying about it.

Joe took a few steps toward the apartment in question and recoiled slightly when he breathed in. It was as though the door and surrounding wall were saturated with the smell. His eyebrows rose until they were in danger of getting lost in his hair. "Can't you complain to the landlord? Or call the police?"

Dave's gaze shifted toward the floor. He was obviously nervous about something.

"Never mind for now, Dave. Let's get you packed up and out, all right?" Mike said quickly. The kid had been through enough tonight, he thought. Besides, if he knew Cam, the man would be talking to Dave about it at some point.

Dave nodded gratefully and led them the rest of the way into the apartment.

The first thing they saw immediately upon entering was a small, open area, bare except for an ironing board, iron, and a basket full of dirty clothes, just inside the door. A pair of very dirty work boots stood by the door on a layer of old newspaper. The floor was covered in a low nap, rust brown, wall to wall carpeting. The walls were painted a generic off white.

The kitchen was perhaps five feet by five feet and contained a stove, sink, and a refrigerator. A small expanse of counter space held an electric drip coffee maker, and an incredibly old microwave which had a dial rather than buttons. The cabinets which lined two walls and graced the area under the sink and counter were laminate and painted brown. The kitchen was divided from the living area by a low wall which was supposed to give it the feel of being a separate room. Dave had tacked up climbing ivy around the opening for a bit of color. A round clock with a metal work ivy pattern hung above the television, ticking softly. Otherwise there were no pictures, no posters.

The living area included a beat up looking wooden chair in front of an aluminum desk which sported a computer and a cordless telephone. To the right of that was a TV on a small table with a DVD player underneath. A 'coffee table' made from four milk crates and a piece of plywood took up the center of the room, and a low couch with hideously ugly patterned upholstery covered, unsuccessfully, with a large green blanket stood against the opposite wall.

An ancient looking, upright vacuum cleaner took pride of place in the far corner. Bookshelves which looked homemade filled the wall closest to the couch. One half full of DVD movies and the other overflowed with books of all shapes. A small, rickety looking end table on the opposite side of the couch supported a large, ugly lamp and several more books.

Just past the kitchen were three doors. The one to the left Dave explained was the bathroom, the one straight ahead was a walk in storage closet which appeared to be empty, and the door to the right was the bedroom.

Dave picked up his pace and quickly picked up a few things that were laying around. Blushing he said "Sorry, I don't usually have anyone over and I wasn't expecting visitors. Sorry about the mess."

Cam looked around. Other than the plate and glass on the coffee table and a pan on the stove there was very little out of place. Of course, he thought to himself, that could be because there was very little in the apartment to put out of place.

"Go get your stuff, I'll wash this up." Joe said, taking the plate and glass from Dave. The boy smiled gratefully and headed to his bedroom, followed closely by Cam.

"Mind if I use the bathroom, kid?" Mike asked.

Dave smiled. "Go ahead. Clean towels on the rack above the toilet, or paper towels if you'd rather use those."

Mike went into the bathroom and closed the door, fighting down a wave of claustrophobia. The room was big enough for a small sink, a toilet and a shower. Two steps were enough to cover the entire floor and there was just enough room to get out of the way of the door to close it.

The bedroom was as large as the living room and all but bare. Two full sized mattresses topped a box spring which rested on the floor. Two pillows that looked like they'd seen better days lay crushed and pummeled on top. A brown and creme comforter hung halfway off the bed.

Another ugly old lamp, clock radio and several more books sat on yet another rickety end table by the bed. There was an old blanket covering the large window which gave an excellent view of the parking lot when moved aside.

Across from the bed were two closets with accordion doors. Cam opened the one closest to him but it was completely empty. He raised his eyebrows and looked at Dave, who once again blushed deeply. The boy opened the closet closest to the window to reveal five pairs of jeans, neatly hung, three pairs of casual dress pants and three shirts which Cam recognized from work. Cam noticed that even the dozen or so t-shirts were hung. Some of the t shirts were at least two sizes larger than the boy and Cam laughed.

"How many people were you planning to put in there?" he asked jokingly.

Dave blushed and smiled.

A clear plastic storage container sat on the closet floor which held underthings and socks. There was a pair of white Nike's beside the box, encased in a large zip lock freezer bag. Cam took note of the roach 'hotels' in the corners of the closet and the ones which had been placed in the corners of the room but didn't mention them.

"Shouldn't be too hard to pack up. Where's your suitcase?"

"Don't have one," Dave mumbled.

"Duffel bag?"

Dave shook his head. "I brought everything here in... plastic bags."

Cam noticed the hesitation and wondered at it but didn't comment. "How about garbage bags? And do you have a small bag we can put your toothbrush in, or anything else you want to take with you?"

"Trash bags under the sink. Aaaaaand, zip locks in the cabinet to the right of the sink." He started to go out to retrieve the items he'd mentioned but Cam put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him, smiling to put the kid at ease.

Cam walked to the door to look for Joe. Catching his eye he made his request and repeated what Dave had told him about where to find the various items.

"Mike, if you'd pack up Dave's toothbrush and whatever else you think he'll need for the next few days I'd appreciate it," he said, as Mike came out of the bathroom.

Joe saluted and turned to get the bags. The space beneath the sink contained nothing except the box of trash bags, and several roach traps. Joe opened the cabinet where Cam had said the baggies were and took one out. He handed both to Mike since he was going that way and then returned his attentions to the kitchen. He removed the full trash bag from the bin, closed
and tied it and stood it by the door to be taken out when they left. He put a clean bag in the bin and then turned his attention back to the cabinets, looking for anything that might go bad before Dave returned.

The cabinets above the stove were empty as were the ones above the sink. The one directly to the right of the sink held bottles of spices and the boxes of baggies in different sizes. The cabinets above the coffee pot consisted of three shelves. The bottom shelf held an open box of pancake mix, a bag of sugar, and boxes of macaroni and rice which were encased in zip lock plastic bags. The second shelf contained four mismatched plates, five equally mismatched bowls, three glasses and two obscenely large coffee mugs. Joe noticed a couple more roach traps were on each shelf and on the far side next to several different types of cleaning supplies and clean rags.

The cabinets underneath the counter held a wok, a skillet and a large sauce pot, all covered with plastic bags. More of the ever present roach traps stood vigil in the corners.

He opened the refrigerator to check the expiration date on the milk. There was no milk, only a container of margarine, and a can of coffee grounds. Bottles of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and barbeque sauce, syrup and salad dressing lined one of the shelves on the door. He opened one of the vegetable drawers and found a wizened onion which he removed to be tossed out. In the other drawer he found a paper bag with six bottles of beer in it.

Joe took the bag out of the refrigerator just as Cam, Dave and Mike walked back out. Cam lifted his chin in question toward the bag. Dave's face went pale and he turned uncertain eyes toward Joe.

"Just some stuff that has to go in the dumpster on the way out." Joe replied, his face neutral. "As a matter of fact, give me the bag there. I'll toss this and put that one in the trunk. I'll meet you at the cars."

Dave swallowed and nodded his head, silently handing the bag with his clothes and sneakers to Joe. Mike held the door open for Joe, picked up the bag of trash by the door and then followed him out.

Cam accepted that explanation and went into the kitchen, opened the cabinet under the sink and took out another trash bag. "May as well take the dirty stuff with us and wash it at the house instead of leaving it to grow legs and run away," he smiled.  He knew that he could have just picked up the basket and put it in the trunk, but while he hadn't said anything about all the roach traps he'd seen around the apartment he didn't want to take the chance of setting any of them loose in his own house on the off chance that any of them had decided to go for a ride in the basket.

"You don't have to..." Dave began.

Cam smiled. "Don't worry about it, Mirtillo. With eight of us in the house a little more laundry won't even be noticed.  If you're uncomfortable having one of us do your laundry you can take care of it yourself, but it doesn't make sense to leave it here for God knows how long. Right?"
(Mirtillo - Blueberry)

Cam began sorting through the laundry in the basket, tossing items one by one into the bag.

"Hey, Dave, I haven't seen any pajamas yet. Got some stashed somewhere?" Cam asked.

"Don't use 'em. I usually just sleep in my underwear."

"Well, just to warn you, we're working on the problem, but the twins still have a bad habit of barging into people's rooms without knocking, so you really should wear something to bed. I think you and Hunter are nearly the same size. You can borrow a pair of his sleep pants tonight and tomorrow before I go to work we'll head out to Wal-Mart and pick you up a couple of your own. Oh, and I need you to write down George's number for me so that I can call him in the morning and let him know you won't be in for a while. Sound good?"

Without waiting for Dave to answer, Cam cinched up the bag and gestured toward the door.

"Ok, my friend, if you can't think of anything else you need let's go home. It's nearly twelve, and I don't know about you but I'm exhausted."

Dave smiled. Home. He decided that he really liked that word.


  1. I like that Dave has a safe place to go, but it makes me sad that it was even necessary.

  2. Hi Storm, I'm sorry this made you sad, but just remember, Dave has lots of friends who are closer than family and they care about him. He is loved.
    Thanks so much for commenting!