Past Interlude #4
Everett, Washington - 1994



Adam didn't like hissing. Scott and Remy always hissed when they fought. They hissed and told themselves that no one else could hear it but Adam could hear it. He heard things real good.

The five-year-old crouched at the top of the stairs, gathering his knees to his chest as he pressed an ear to the wall.

"Grab his legs," Scott grunted.

"I have his legs," said Remy, who also sounded winded. "Keep your half up."

"Did he swallow a friggin' truck with his rum? Holy shit."

"Cut the man some slack, Scott. It's the anniversary--"

"I know which anniversary it is, fuck you very much. I told you to keep an eye on him."

"How could I keep an eye on him when he goes into a pub? I'm underage."

"Yet somehow, you managed to get into the night club right beside it."

"I got him home before dawn, didn't I?"

Scott grunted again. Something crashed. Something breakable by the sound of it. Adam broke a window once and it sounded like that. "Great. Now we have to clean that up along with the piss in the porch."

Remy sniggered. "You gotta admit, he did scare off Mrs. McNally's damned cat."

"Yeah, laugh it up. I'm going to make you clean it."

"Aw, c'mon Scott!"

"Hey, keep both hands-- don't let go--Remy!" There was another crash, a big huge one that sounded like whhhhump! with lots of little crashes and tinkles afterward. Adam risked peering down through the stair slats. The couch lay on its back with Dad half draped on it, snoring away. Scott jumped over Dad's legs to get to Remy who was lying in the middle of what used to by the glass-topped side table.

"Oh, shit, Remy! Don't move, okay? Don't move! I gotcha." Scott ran to the kitchen and pulled out a bunch of dish towels. Dashing back to the living room, he grabbed a pillow from the couch and threw it on the floor beside Remy before kneeling down. "Are you okay? Does anything hurt?"

"My arm." Remy had his eyes squeezed closed. "My arm's all cold. That's a big cut if it's gone cold like that."

"No time to be hard-core."

"Who's being hard core? I am thug life, remember?"

Adam hugged his knees tighter when he saw two bright red streaks flow thickly down Remy's upper arm. His arm was shaped wrong; it looked bumpy. A pink triangle poked out of one side-- Adam knew it was a triangle because they did shapes in school last week and Scott quizzed him with funny little flash cards that sometimes had bananas on them and if Adam said "banana" before Scott could hide the banana picture, he got yellow M&Ms.

With Scott's help, Remy gingerly got up and went to the dining room on the other side of the stairs. Adam slid to the opposite wall to keep hidden.

"I'm calling 911," said Scott.

"If we call 911, they'll ask about Dad and the rest of us and the booze and he'll get discharged," said Remy. His eyes were still squinched shut. He opened his fist and, with his teeth gritted, closed it again. Blood pumped out of the wound.

"Screw a court marshal," said Scott. "If you don't get stitches on that, you'll damage something. That's your dominant hand."

"I'm ambidextrous. Jerk off with both hands."

"Not completely. Right-Hand Rhonda's a little less enthusiastic." Scott rolled two of the towels into little hoops. Placing them on either side of the glass, he said, "Hold on to these while I bandage you up."

"How do you know about Right-Hand Rhonda?"

"One of your girlfriends complained."

"Hah-fucking-hah." Remy drew breath between his teeth. "If he gets court marshalled, we could get thrown into foster homes," said Remy. His hand hovered close to the wounded arm but because he still had his eyes closed, Scott had to lead him to the ring bandage. "I've done foster homes. It's shitty."

"You're being pessimistic," said Scott. "That's my job."

"If they break us up--"

"No-one's breaking us up and no one's getting a court marshal so shut the goddamn hell up." Scott swore a few more times as he fumbled with the makeshift bandage. "I'll go wake Alex and Adam up so we can all go to the emergency together."

"Tell the cops that it's only tonight," said Remy. Adam had never heard his voice sound like that-- all high-pitched and almost... almost like the voice he used when he wanted extra syrup on his pancakes. "Tell them about your mom's death anniversary and that he only gets drunk on that day."


"Scott, please, damn it, you fucking tight-assed, goody-two shoes nerd!"

"I will. Relax." Scott wiped the blood from Remy's hand, the one that had been holding the bandage. "Turn your head. I think you hit it on the table leg. I'll get you some ice for that."

"I'm fine if we get separated but Adam needs to stay with one of you guys--"

"Remy, get a grip." Scott's voice was softer here, not high-pitched like Remy's but somehow they sounded the similar. "I'll take care of everything, okay?"

Not satisfied with that response, Remy shook his head wildly. "-- sometimes they'll keep you all in the same city. Adam's too old to get adopted--"

"How many times do I have to say 'relax' before your feeble mind understands?" Scott moved behind Remy's chair and held the younger boy in a tight one-armed embrace. It looked more like a wrestling hold. Carefully, like he was afraid he'd get hit, Scott wrapped the other arm around Remy's shoulders. "Everything's going to be okay. I haven't let you guys down yet, have I?"

Adam pressed his forehead to his knees and let out a relieved sigh.

next chapter
previous chapter