Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Anger Games 7

"Good morning, Lissie!"  Dave greeted cheerfully.  "What can I do to help you this morning?"

Lissie turned with a smile to greet her 'oldest son' but the smile quickly faded.

"The first thing you can do is go back upstairs and change out of that dirty tee shirt."  She said firmly.

Dave frowned and looked down at his shirt.  Nope, no stains.  No holes.  He gave an experimental sniff even though he'd just gotten out of the shower.  No odor.  "Lissie?"  He began tentatively.  "It's not dirty.  This is the first time I've ever worn it."

Lissie turned to look at him, searching for any sign of guile.  His face conveyed only honest confusion and her own expression softened.  "What I mean, honey, is that the saying on that shirt isn't appropriate in a house with young children in it and I'd like you to put on a different shirt."

Dave glanced down at his shirt.  He smiled in understanding.  "Oh, no worries then!  I don't think the younger ones would even understand the reference."  He said.  Thinking that the conversation was done he began to set the table.

"David."  Lissie said firmly.  "I want you to go change that shirt.  Now.  Understood?"

"But..."

"Now."  

Dave opened his mouth to protest but Lissie clicked her fingers and pointed toward the stairs, a stern expression on her face.

He gritted his teeth and obeyed the unspoken command, though he grumbled under his breath as he walked, trying not to stomp, up the stairs to his room to change his shirt.  He peeled off the offending shirt, then opened the drawer where he kept his tee shirts.  He began to take out a plain blue one when a grin crossed his face and he rifled through the printed tees for the one he wanted.  He shouldered into it, wiped the grin off of his face and went back downstairs.

Cam was in the kitchen when he arrived.  Dave smiled and wished them a good morning.  

Lissie turned around again and stood there, stunned as she saw the new shirt.  It read 'If you don't like my tee shirt, feel free to undress me.'

Cam stood by the kitchen door, leaning against the jamb, arms crossed.  He'd heard Lissie tell Dave to change out of the first t shirt and she'd told him what it said when he'd arrived in the kitchen and asked about it.  He'd been a little surprised that the boy would wear anything like that in the first place, and even more surprised that Dave would then get upset by his wife's request.

He remained silent but stood ready in case Lissie needed him.  He knew his wife was capable of handling the situation but he was ready in case she might need him.

"David Elijah.  Change.  That.  Shirt.  Right.  Now." Lissie enunciated clearly.

"But I did change it."  He replied in a reasonable tone, acting as though he didn't understand her.  "See?  It's an entirely different shirt."

"David!"  Cam said sharply.  "You were told to do something.  I suggest you do it.  Now.  And if I were you I'd be careful about what I came back down wearing. Understand?"

Dave didn't answer but Cam and Lissie both saw the glint in his eyes as he stalked back up the stairs to change his shirt again.  They looked at each other, dismay clear on their faces.  This was not the Dave they knew and they wondered what on earth could be wrong with him today.

Breakfast was over, Cam had returned from the bus stop, and there was still no sign of the young man.  He and Lissie had cleared the breakfast dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and were sitting at the table having a last cup of coffee, discussing Dave's uncharacteristically immature behavior.

"I don't know what's gotten into him today." Lissie had said, shaking her head.  "And those shirts!  I've never seen him wear anything like that before.  I would just never expect him to own anything like that, let alone wear it in public.  I'm just glad the kids weren't in the room when he came down."

"I agree with you that the first shirt he put on wasn't worn to be deliberately rude, but that second one..." Cam sighed.  "If that had been Hunter he would have gone to school with a sore backside."

"Which leaves us with the question of how we're going to deal with Dave.  We can't give him a different set of rules than the others.  It wouldn't be fair to them."

"You're right, but... how do we handle him?  If he were really one of ours I wouldn't have to think twice about it."

"He's got to learn that there are consequences for his actions, same as the others, Cam.  He can't behave like that and get off scott free.  But..."

"But he has issues to deal with that the other kids have never faced, I know."  Cam said thoughtfully.  "When I first invited him to stay with us I told him that he'd be expected to follow the same rules as the other kids but I never really went over what all the rules were, I really didn't think it was necessary.  I also told him I'd treat him just like the other kids.  He's been around us often enough to understand what that meant."  

Lissie sighed.  "Yes, I'm sure he did understand.  I'm also sure he intended to behave himself like a perfect gentleman for the three or four days that he'd originally expected to stay here.  It's better than two weeks now..."

"You don't regret taking him in do you? You're not upset that he's still here?"  Cam asked, concerned.

"Not at all!"  She was quick to reassure her husband.  "I love Dave and I'm glad that not only were you there for him but that he was here and not in his apartment during that awful fire.  I love having him here.  He's a good guy and he's great with the kids, he's helpful around the house... it's just... this morning he really upset me.  I swear Cam, I was ready to take the spoon to him!"  She took a sip of her coffee and put the cup down a little more forcefully than she'd meant to.  Come coffee spilled over onto the table.

Cam stood up and tore off a paper towel from the roll to wipe it up.  He looked at the clock over the stove.  "Let me see if I can pry him out of his room, he's been up there sulking long enough.  I think we have time to sit and talk things over with him before you have to leave for work."  He said, turning toward the cabinet to take out the third coffee cup and put it back on the table.  "If we can't finish the discussion before you leave we can pick it up again after dinner while the kids are doing their homework."

"Sounds good."  She smiled up at him. 

He leaned down to kiss her and then went upstairs to find Dave.  He knocked on the bedroom door but there was no answer.  He opened the door to find the room empty.  Frowning, he headed toward the bathroom and knocked on the door there.

"Dave?"

"Yeah."  Came the disgruntled sounding reply.

Cam raised his eyebrows in consternation but kept his voice level.  "Are you all right?  You missed breakfast."

" 'm good."  Dave mumbled.

"Lissie and I would like to have a talk with you.  I'd like you to come downstairs to the kitchen.  Have a cup up coffee with us and let's discuss what happened this morning."

There was no answer.

Cam knocked on the door a little more sharply.  "Dave.  I want you to come to the kitchen.  You have five minutes.  Understood?"

There was no answer.

"David!" 

"Yeah.  Understood."  Dave replied.

Taking him at his word, Cam returned to the kitchen where he and Lissie sat at the table discussing their young friend's behavior.  Five minutes passed and there was still no sign of the boy.  Cam walked to the bottom of the stairs and called "David!  Come down!  Kitchen!  Now!  Do you hear me?"

Several minutes later, just as Cam was about to go upstairs and bring the boy down, Dave ran down to the kitchen.  He stood before Cam and Lissie, eyes defiant.  The caption on his shirt said simply, 'I heard you. I just don't care.'

Lissie gasped.  Without another word Cam stood up from the table, took Dave by the wrist and pulled him along, back up the stairs and into his room, closing the door behind them.  Once in the room, Cam released the suddenly nervous boy who stood uncertainly beside the bed while Cam walked over to the dresser.

"Which drawer do you keep your shirts in?" Cam demanded.

"Third drawer down."  Dave replied quietly, a little confused as to why Cam would ask.  Faced with Cam's anger his defiance had waned and all he felt was guilt and shame for the blatant disregard he'd shown toward Cam and Lissie.  He was also more than a little afraid that Cam was going to beat him.  

"Take that shirt off."

Dave hastened to obey and handed the offending t shirt into Cam's waiting hand.  He crossed his arms over his stomach, partially in embarrassment to cover the extra weight he carried, and partially to still the shaking of his hands.

Cam opened the drawer and pulled out all the tee shirts.  He sorted through them one by one.  Six shirts, including the still warm one that Dave had just taken off, that Cam deemed inappropriate, offensive or rude went into a pile on top of the dresser.  Plain tee's or those with inoffensive sayings or pictures went back into the drawer.  Cam selected a plain, dark green shirt and shook it open.  

"Put this on."  Cam ordered, handing the shirt to the young man.

Dave quickly complied.  

Cam picked up the pile of contraband.  "I want you to stand in that corner until I come back. We'll discuss your punishment then.  Understand?"  he said, gesturing toward a corner before turning to leave the room.

"You can't take my shirts!" Dave protested, dismayed.  He took a step toward Cam rather than the indicated corner.  Then as he realized what Cam had said he turned an incredulous look in the man's direction.  "Stand in the corner?!"  He said in disbelief.  Then the word 'punishment' sank in.  Oh, shit in a hat!  "Pu...!  Wait a minute! You can't..."

"We can and we are, David.  I told you when you moved in here that you were expected to follow the house rules and this... display of yours... none of the kids would get away with it and you know that." He said sternly.  "If we can't trust you to dress appropriately and to use good judgement on what is acceptable and what isn't then I'm going to keep these until you prove to me you can.  I want you in that corner.  Now!" he said, clicking his fingers and pointing toward the corner in question.

"But... but..."  Dave stammered.

"I'd rather you obeyed, rather than forcing me to put you there myself but I will.  Now what will it be?"

Dave hesitated for a moment but when he saw Cam's expression he reluctantly obeyed.  He went to the indicated corner and instinctively began to kneel, as Azriel had always made him do.

"What are you doing?"  Cam asked, perplexed.

"Oh, you... stand...  sorry."  Dave stammered.  He got back to his feet and faced the wall.  He hoped his position prevented Cam from seeing the hot flush that stained his cheeks.

Sent to stand in a corner at eighteen years old.  Dave thanked God that no one else was home to witness this. Dave's thoughts were bouncing around his skull like demented hamsters.

Why did I just stand there and let Cam take my shirts?  They're my shirts!  He had no business taking them!  Who does Cam think he is telling me to stand in the corner?!  What is it about the way Cam is treating me that... why am I obeying?  Why am I allowing myself to be stood in a corner?!  Why am I standing here like an idiot?  Why don't I just leave this damned corner?  I should just refuse to be treated like this and sit on the bed instead.  I can explain it to Cam when he gets back.  Will he listen?  My punishment?  He's going to punish me?  What's he going to do?  What's to stop me from leaving the house and driving off?  I'm an adult!  How can this be right?  Why does it feel right?  What's wrong with me!  What is he going to do to me?

Dave sighed and leaned his hot forehead against the cool wall.


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